As the Covid-19 crisis spiraled out of control across India, the government announced that vaccination centers in Mumbai, India’s largest city, would be closed for three days from Friday.
The closure of the 94 centers was due to the “unavailability of vaccines,” said the city government in a tweet on Thursday evening.
“Every effort is being made to make more inventory available and to resume the drive.”
The Indian Supreme Court, meanwhile, said the country’s health system had reached a “breaking point” and retired health care workers could be asked to return to work Press Trust of India.
India recorded 386,452 cases of Covid-19 on Friday, setting another world record for daily cases. The official death toll in the country stood at 200,000 on Thursday, but experts believe the real number could be five to ten times higher, Reuters reported.
India has had just over 15 million vaccinations, according to the Ministry of Health, a tiny fraction of its population of just under 1.4 billion people. In addition to Mumbai, several other Indian states are also running out of vaccines, Reuters reported.
The crisis has overwhelmed the country’s hospitals and moratoriums, forcing cities to carry out mass burnings in public spaces.
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The international response to the escalating crisis in India picked up speed on Thursday. Secretary of State Harsh Vardhan Shringla announced that the country would receive over 10,000 oxygen cylinders, 4,000 oxygen concentrators and 500 oxygen generation systems from over 40 countries worldwide, including the United States.
“We currently have over 3 million active cases. This has obviously put significant pressure on our health system, the capacity and resources we have, ”Shringla told reporters.
“International cooperation is an essential part of meeting and bridging the immediate needs that we have.”
On Thursday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken tweeted that the US had delivered its first batch of tech support to India.
“Just as India came to our aid at the start of the pandemic, the US is determined to work urgently to help India in its need,” he said.
Two planes with oxygen bottles and oxygen-generating relief supplies were due to come to India from the United States on Friday. A third plane is due on May 3rd, according to the Indian Foreign Ministry.
While the country is grappling with one of the worst public health crises in history, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has come under fire for managing the crisis. Critics said he failed to lock down the country in time.
On Thursday evening, Modi continued to urge Indians to take part in the final stage of West Bengal’s elections, amid concerns about the risk of large gatherings escalating into super-spreader events.
“In accordance with the latest Covid-19 protocols, I urge people to cast their vote and enrich the Festival of Democracy,” he said in a statement on Twitter.
West Bengal is one of the few states in which Modi does not have a majority.