Virus Outbreak
FILE - In this May 3, 2021, file photo, a man walks carrying a refilled cylinder as family members of COVID-19 patients wait in queue to refill their oxygen cylinders at Mayapuri area in New Delhi, India. COVID-19 infections and deaths are mounting with alarming speed in India with no end in sight to the crisis. People are dying because of shortages of bottled oxygen and hospital beds or because they couldn’t get a COVID-19 test. (AP Photo/Ishant Chauhan, File)
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Indian government faces lockdown calls, contempt charges

13 Comments
By ASHOK SHARMA

India's government faced calls for a strict lockdown to slow a devastating surge in new coronaviorus cases, and a court in New Delhi on Wednesday will decide whether to punish officials for failing to end a 2-week-old erratic supply of oxygen to overstretched hospitals.

With 382,315 new confirmed cases, India's tally has risen to more than 20.6 million since the pandemic began. The Health Ministry on Wednesday also reported 3,780 deaths in the last 24 hours, bringing the total to 226,188. Experts believe both figures are an undercount.

Rahul Gandhi, a leader of the opposition Congress party, said this week "a lockdown is now the only option because of a complete lack of strategy by the Indian government.”

The New Delhi High Court will decide whether to press contempt charges against officials for defying its order to meet oxygen requirements of more than 40 hospitals in the capital. Those found guilty face six months in prison or a fine.

The court summoned two Home Ministry officials for Wednesday's hearing.

"You can put your head in the sand like an ostrich, we will not. We are not going to take no for an answer,” Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli said.

The grim reality is that hospitals are reducing the number of beds and asking patients to move elsewhere, the judges said. The court is hearing petitions filed by several hospitals and nursing homes struggling with irregular oxygen supplies.

Raghav Chaddha, a spokesman for the Aam Aadmi Party governing New Delhi, said hospitals were getting only 40% of their 700 metric tons (772 U.S. tons) requirements through the federal government, and the local government was arranging additional supplies to meet the shortfall and setting up new oxygen plants.

The latest wave of infections since April has pushed India’s health care to the brink with people begging for oxygen cylinders and hospital beds on social media and news channels.

Bodies have been piling up at cremation grounds and in graveyards with relatives waiting for hours for the last rites.

Dileep Kumar, a student, said he was asked by hospital authorities to shift his father to another hospital in Ghaziabad, a town on the outskirts of New Delhi, after it ran out of oxygen on Tuesday.

Authorities are scrambling to add more beds, sending oxygen from one corner of the country to another, and scaling up manufacturing of the few drugs effective against COVID-19.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government is reluctant to impose a national lockdown for fear of the economic fallout. Modi said last month that it should be the last resort.

But nearly a dozen states have imposed curbs on their own.

The most populous state of Uttar Pradesh, with 200 million people, implemented a five-day lockdown this week. The country’s second and third most populated states of Maharashtra and Bihar are also under lockdown with varying curbs.

Efforts to scale up the vaccination drive are hampered by the shortage of doses. India, a country of 1.4 billion, has so far administered 160 million doses.

The global community is extending a helping hand. The United States, Britain, Germany and several other nations are rushing therapeutics, rapid virus tests and oxygen to India, along with some materials needed for India to boost its domestic production of COVID-19 vaccines.

© Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.


13 Comments
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Lockdown in India? with the state of much of the country's housing and living conditions and the huge population density I imagine it would be way less effective (if that is the right word) than in many other more developed countries.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

huge population density

No worse than in Wuhan really.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Despite producing 2/3rds of the worlds vaccine. The vaccine acceptance was slow due to rumors and fallacies. Now they rush to secure oxygen and vaccine from black market at exorbitant prices. This is a tragic cautionary tale for any anti-vaxers world over.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Pakistan and Bangladesh next door have the same climate, economic situation, and population makeup and are not exactly known for wonderful corruption-free politics. And they have very low Corona rates, according to official statistics.

So are we looking at some miraculous difference in politics, or just a difference in media reporting and report keeping?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Zoroto Really - Wuhan has living and housing conditions like India? and slums? Zaphod Wait. Those countries will soon be having another "wave:.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The New Delhi High Court will decide whether to press contempt charges against officials for defying its order to meet oxygen requirements of more than 40 hospitals in the capital. Those found guilty face six months in prison or a fine.

take note priminister Suga....look no urging, this is how you do it.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

How about having discussions about lockdowns at mass religious festivals and have a show of hands?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

This is the result of criminally negligent governing incompetence.

it’s just stunning that Modi would carry out political rallies unmasked in a pandemic.

It reminds me of the buffoon in Brazil and the incompetent former guy. At least we got rid of him. It appears that Brazil and India are stuck with their narcissists.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government is reluctant to impose a national lockdown for fear of the economic fallout. Modi said last month that it should be the last resort.

The cruel, inhuman calculus of capitalism.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"Despite producing 2/3rds of the worlds vaccine. The vaccine acceptance was slow due to rumors and fallacies."

No, vaccine acceptance is high in India. The culprit is Modi governments decision to allow exports of vaccines and to donate vaccines to poor countries. India had exported or donated more than 64 million vaccine doses, and at one point of time the health minister boasted that the figure was higher than the population vaccinated in India.

Modi's 'vaccine diplomacy' and his enthusiasm for being recognized as a 'world leader' are to blame here.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

To be fair, it's not just Modi but also many opposition leaders to blame since they also failed to anticipate the second wave, prepare accordingly or warn their population. Delhi is ruled by an opposition party and they are forever playing a game of one-upmanship with BJP.

Most of the times, it is the courts which reprimand the political parties since the judiciary does not care about vote bank politics.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government is reluctant to impose a national lockdown for fear of the economic fallout. Modi said last month that it should be the last resort.

For the good of the entire nation lock Modi up. Those this guy have any brain cells in his head,

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Lockdowns should only happen in the states with high numbers of covid cases.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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