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India reports a record 2,023 COVID-19 deaths in a day

India reports a record 2,023 COVID-19 deaths in a day

People wearing masks wait to test for COVID-19 at a hospital in Hyderabad, India, Apr 19, 2021. (Photo: AP/Mahesh Kumar A)

NEW DELHI: India reported more than 2,000 COVID-19 fatalities on Wednesday (Apr 21), the highest single-day death toll for the country so far.

The health ministry reported 295,000 new infections in 24 hours, on par with numbers seen in the United States in January, and 2,023 fatalities, bringing India's total death toll to 182,553. 

The daily death toll had hit a previous high on Tuesday, with 1,761 dead from the coronavirus.

In an address to the nation on Tuesday night, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that the country of 1.3 billion people was "once again fighting a big fight".

"The situation was under control till a few weeks back, and then this second (coronavirus) wave came like a storm," Modi said.

READ: For India's poor, COVID-19 'pandemic policing' adds to lockdown hardships

Recent weeks have seen mass gatherings including millions attending the Kumbh Mela religious festival, political rallies as well as lavish weddings and cricket matches.

Production of key coronavirus drugs slowed or even halted at some factories and there were delays inviting bids for oxygen generation plants, according to press reports.

READ: India's Modi scorned over reckless rallies, religious gathering amid COVID-19 mayhem

READ: India COVID-19 surge hits new record as oxygen runs short

Now, distraught relatives are being forced to pay exorbitant rates on the black market for medicine and oxygen and WhatsApp groups are awash with desperate pleas for help.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who on Tuesday went into self-isolation after his wife tested positive, tweeted that some hospitals in the megacity "are left with just a few hours of oxygen".

Medical oxygen supplies are running dangerously low in parts of India - here, people fill cylinders for COVID-19 patients at a refill station in Allahabad. (Photo: AFP/Sanjay Kanojia)

The United States now advises against travelling to India, even for those fully vaccinated, while Britain had added India to its "red list". Hong Kong and New Zealand have banned flights from the country.

READ: Singapore tightens COVID-19 rules for travellers from India, cuts entry approvals for non-Singaporeans and PRs

Singapore has tightened border measures for travellers from India, who will have to serve an additional seven days of stay-home notice at their residence following their 14-day stay-home notice at dedicated facilities, said the Ministry of Health (MOH).

Singapore will also reduce entry approvals for non-Singapore citizens or permanent residents due to the worsening situation in India and the emergence of new virus variants, said MOH. 

India's overall case tally is now at 15.6 million, second only to the United States, which has reported more than 31 million infections.

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Source: AGENCIES/vc

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