New Delhi extends Covid lockdown as India cases hit new record

New Delhi, India: The lockdown in India's capital, New Delhi, was extended on Sunday as the country's Covid-19 crisis worsened, with infections and deaths reaching all-time highs.

The vast nation of 1.3 billion people reported 349,691 new cases and 2,767 deaths, the most since the pandemic began.

The northern megacity, which has a population of 20 million people and is the worst-affected in India, placed a week-long curfew on Monday as hospital beds and oxygen supplies ran out.

In a video statement, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said, "We have agreed to extend the lockdown by one week."

"Corona (virus) wreaks havoc and there is no relief in sight. All agree that the lockdown should be extended."

The announcement came as the healthcare system struggled to deal with the massive increase in cases, with reports of overcrowded hospitals, extreme oxygen, and drug shortages, and patients' families begging for assistance on social media.

The government has come under increasing fire over claims that it was caught off guard in the run-up to the boom.

Twitter announced on Sunday that it had withheld hundreds of tweets critical of the ongoing crisis at the behest of the Indian government.

The social media giant said the tweets were blocked in India in response to a legal demand from New Delhi, months after a similar move was taken in response to comments critical of the government's new agriculture laws, which triggered violent protests.

Some tweets include comments, including those from regional opposition politicians, about the overburdened healthcare system, which has resulted in patients dying due to oxygen shortages.

When we receive a legitimate legal request, we check it in accordance with both the Twitter Rules and applicable local law, Twitter said in a statement.

"If the post breaches Twitter's policies, it will be deleted from the platform. If it is decided that it is illegal in a specific jurisdiction but not in violation of Twitter's laws, we may restrict access to the content in India only."

According to data collected by AFP, India has reported more than two million cases in the last seven days, a 58 percent rise from the previous week.

Other Indian cities under lockdowns, night curfews, or other restrictions to try to curb the virus's spread include Mumbai, the country's financial capital.

The government has increased its efforts to provide oxygen supplies by using special trains and airlifting containers from other countries.

One billion vaccination milestone

Meanwhile, on Saturday, the number of Covid-19 vaccines administered globally exceeded one billion, providing optimism even as the number of virus cases worldwide sets a new daily high, owing primarily to an outbreak of infections in India.

According to an AFP tally, at least 1,002,938,540 vaccine doses have been distributed in 207 countries and territories.

Nonetheless, the number of new infections surpassed 893,000 globally on Friday, setting a new daily high.

More than a third of these were recorded in India, where authorities announced 346,786 new cases on Saturday, a record for a single country since the pandemic's inception.

Thailand, which had long spared the worst of the virus, was also dealing with an increasing number of cases.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha announced on Saturday that over 1,400 Covid-19 patients were awaiting admission to hospitals.

Since the outbreak in China in December 2019, the pandemic has killed over three million people worldwide.

Even though there is still a week left in April, Brazil has experienced its deadliest month of the outbreak, with nearly 68,000 confirmed fatalities.

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