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Oxygen aid arrives in India amid record-break Covid numbers

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More emergency aid including medical Oxygen arrived in India on Sunday. The daily Covid death toll Covid attained a new high. India is setting new highs almost daily. On Sunday, 3689 deaths were reported. This is the highest single-day rise yet in the pandemic. The overall death toll has gone above 215,000.

The latest figures came as medical equipment — including oxygen-generation plants — was flown into the capital New Delhi from France and Germany as part of a huge international effort.

“We are here because we are bringing help that… will save lives,” Germany’s ambassador to India, Walter J. Lindner, said as 120 ventilators arrived late Saturday.

“Out there the hospitals are full. People are sometimes dying in front of the hospitals. They have no more oxygen. Sometimes (they are dying) in their cars.”

French ambassador Emmanuel Lenain said his country wanted to show solidarity with India.

“The world won’t be safe until we are all safe. So it’s a matter of urgency,” he said early Sunday following the delivery of eight oxygen-generation plants and dozens of ventilators from France.

Also Read | Domestic travel curbs can lead to more COVID-19 cases: Study

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said late Sunday his government was investigating whether nitrogen plants could be used to produce oxygen instead. 

More lockdowns

India’s eastern state of Odisha on Sunday became the latest region to order a lockdown to slow the spread of the pathogen.

Capital New Delhi, the worst-hit city in the country extended its lockdown by another week.

Hospitals in the capital continued to issue SOS calls for oxygen on social media, with the latest appeal posted by a children’s hospital on Twitter on Sunday.

The plea came a day after up to a dozen patients died at a Delhi hospital amid an oxygen shortage, local media reported.

There are growing fears about the pandemic ravaging smaller towns and rural regions where health infrastructure is already patchy and limited.

India on Saturday opened up its inoculation drive to all adults, but supplies are running low and only online enrolments are allowed for the under-45s.

Also Read | COVID-19: PM Modi reviews oxygen and medicine availability

“It is a necessity now. We are seeing so many people testing positive,” data scientist Megha Srivastava, 35, told AFP outside a Delhi vaccination centre.

The head of the world’s largest vaccine maker, Serum Institute chief Adar Poonawalla, told The Times newspaper on Saturday during a business trip to Britain that he was being hounded by political and business leaders for more supplies.

“‘Threats’ is an understatement,” he told the paper. “The level of expectation and aggression is really unprecedented. It’s overwhelming. Everyone feels they should get the vaccine.”

Experts have called on the government to allow more flexibility in India’s vaccine rollout, particularly in poorer rural areas where there is lower internet penetration.

“We should procure sufficient vaccines, then plan bottom-up through… the primary health centre level,” Bangalore-based public health expert Hemant Shewade told AFP.

(With inputs from agencies)

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