More international Covid aid lands in virus-stricken India

New Delhi, India: With nearly 400,000 new infections registered Sunday, India struggled to contain one of the world's worst coronavirus outbreaks, as more foreign aid arrived in the South Asian nation to help end the crisis.

Surges in Brazil and Canada have highlighted the pandemic's lingering danger, with the Covid-19 death toll reaching 3.2 million even as vaccination campaigns in several countries ramp up.

On Saturday, India extended its vaccination program to include all adults, but despite an export ban on shots manufactured in the country, many of its states are experiencing shortages.

On the weekend, long lines formed at vaccination centers across India, with people anxious to be vaccinated against a disease that has engulfed the country's healthcare system, as well as crematoriums and cemeteries.

Also read | Fauci recommends India lockdown as cases surge

"We are here early in the morning to get vaccinated... I left my three-year-old at home to get vaccinated," said Megha Srivastava, 35, at a private vaccination center in the capital New Delhi.

"It is a necessity now. We are seeing so many people testing positive."

As the Covid-19 outbreak triggers widespread shortages, social media channels have been overwhelmed with urgent appeals from people searching for oxygen tanks, medications, and hospital beds.

On Sunday, India registered over 392,000 new cases and nearly 3,700 Covid-19 deaths.

In comments published Saturday, top US pandemic advisor Anthony Fauci suggested that India go into lockdown for several weeks to stop the current devastating surge in Covid cases.

"I think the most important thing in the immediate is to get oxygen, get supplies, get medication, get PPE, those kinds of things," the Indian Express daily quoted Fauci as saying in an interview.

Many countries, including the United States, Russia, and the United Kingdom, dispatched emergency supplies such as oxygen generators, face masks, and vaccines in response to the desperate situation.

On Sunday, France delivered eight oxygen generator plants and 28 ventilators to India, adding to the 120 ventilators delivered by Germany on Saturday.

On Saturday, the lockdown in New Delhi, one of the worst-affected areas of the country, was extended for another week.

In comments published Saturday, Anthony Fauci, the top US pandemic advisor, said that India should go into lockdown to combat the outbreak.

The government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has refused to enforce a national shutdown, but several states have imposed severe restrictions.

'We're stressed and tired' 

Globally, the number of infections is approaching 152 million, and new waves have shaken many countries in the Americas.

With many of its hospitals on the verge of collapse, Brazil, the worst-affected Latin American country, has passed 400,000 Covid-19 deaths, second only to the United States.

In Canada, the epicenter is Ontario, the country's most populated province, where the surge has become so severe that the government has sent the military and the Red Cross to assist with vital patient care.

According to Farial Faquiry, an intensive care nurse at Toronto's Humber River Hospital, Ontario's healthcare system is on the verge of collapsing.

"We're stretched thin," Faquiry told AFP.

"We're tired and exhausted. Just exhausted."

Many health practitioners and nurses are often annoyed by people who do not take precautions.

"I think we all feel we have been let down a little bit by society," said physician Jamie Spiegelman.

In contrast to its southern neighbor, the United States, which has provided at least one dose to more than half of its adult population, Canada's vaccine rollout has slowed due to supply issues.

However, fears are rising that the inoculation program will hit a snag because the people who are most willing to get their vaccines have already done so.

Anti-restriction protests 

Despite the Covid-19 threat being front and center due to outbreaks in Brazil and India, people in many parts of the world are growing tired of virus measures.

On Saturday, anti-restriction demonstrators gathered in Finland, Sweden, Belgium, and Germany, among other European countries.

On Saturday, police in Belgium, which is currently in its second national lockout, used water cannon and tear gas to clear a crowd of several hundred anti-government demonstrators from a park in Brussels. There were 15 arrests made, and two officers were injured.

According to Finnish police, a demonstration in Helsinki attracted about 300 people and resulted in around 50 arrests.

Between 500 and 600 people marched against the curbs in Stockholm.

Despite the alarming increase in Canada, tens of thousands of people marched against virus restrictions in Montreal.

According to an AFP journalist, several protesters were detained at the start of the march, with signs in the crowd opposing face masks and curfews.

Share this story