Thursday, December 09, 2021 | Jumada al-ula 4, 1443 H
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EDITOR IN CHIEF- ABDULLAH BIN SALIM AL SHUEILI

Relentless new wave sends India Covid death toll past 200,000
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NEW DELHI: India’s coronavirus death toll crossed 200,000 on Wednesday as a relentless wave of new cases swamped hospitals and sent desperate families out into the streets of the capital in search of oxygen supplies and medicine.


Infection and death rates are soaring in the vast country of 1.3 billion, in contrast with the United States and some European nations taking tentative steps back towards a normal life.


The virus has now killed more than 3.1 million people worldwide, with India driving the latest surge, recording 360,000 new infections — a global record — and over 3,000 deaths on Wednesday.


In the capital New Delhi, car parks have been converted to crematoriums and the soaring body count has sparked a shortage of wood for funeral pyres.


Desperate relatives of the sick are crowding outside hospitals and pharmacies in search of treatment and medicines, often in vain.


Arriving in cars, rickshaws and ambulances, patients and their families desperate for oxygen flocked to a tent outside a Sikh place of worship on the outskirts of the capital this week.


Priyanka Mandal, 30, had been searching for oxygen for her mother since she became sick a week ago.


“Medicines are also not available... I’ve visited five, six big medical stores,” she said.


“No matter how much time it takes, I have to wait here... I only have my mum.”


Despite the rising cases, on Tuesday around 25,000 people took part in the final bathing day at the Kumbh Mela religious gathering in the northern town of Haridwar, drawn to the banks of the Ganges by an “auspicious” full moon, festival official Harbeer Singh said.


The gathering has attracted millions of pilgrims, mostly without masks, sparking criticism of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government for allowing it to go ahead.


NEW VARIANT


A variant of the virus feared to be contributing to the catastrophic wave in India has now been found in more than a dozen countries, the World Health Organization said Tuesday.


Many nations have rushed to help, sending desperately needed oxygen and aid.


As part of the global effort, Singapore said Wednesday it had sent two plane-loads of oxygen supplies.


India also appears to be a leading contender for some of the millions of AstraZeneca vaccine doses the United States has said it will export.


Despite the crisis worsening in India and other parts of Asia, the Asian Development Bank on Wednesday raised its growth forecast for developing countries in the region. — AFP


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