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Eighteen die in fire at Covid hospital in India as response to pandemic stutters



A fire in a Covid hospital ward in western India has killed 18 patients as the country — grappling with its worst outbreak — stepped up a vaccination drive for all adults, even as some states said they don’t have enough jabs.

ndia set yet another daily global record with 401,993 new cases, taking its tally to more than 19.1 million. Another 3,523 people died in the 24 hours to yesterday, raising the overall fatalities to 211,853. Experts believe both figures are undercounts.

The fire broke out in a Covid ward on the ground floor of the Welfare Hospital in Bharuch in Gujarat state, and extinguished within an hour. The cause is being investigated.

The government yesterday shifted its faltering vaccination campaign into high gear by saying all adults aged 18 and over could get shots. Since January, nearly 10pc of Indians have received one dose, but only around 1.5pc have received both, although India is one of the world’s biggest producers of vaccines.

New Delhi, the capital, also extended its week-long lockdown by another seven days to curb the explosive surge.

All shops and factories will remain closed until next Sunday, except for essential services such as food stores. People are not supposed to leave their homes, except for a handful of reasons like seeking medical care or going to the airport or railway stations.

Daily wage earners and small businesses are expected to suffer a further blow to their livelihoods.

Separately, eight Covid patients including a doctor died yesterday at a hospital in New Delhi after it ran short of oxygen supplies. Hospitals in the capital have been complaining of emergencies caused by irregular oxygen supplies.

Faced with an unprecedented surge that has filled hospitals and crematoriums, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government described the pandemic as a “once-in-a-century crisis”.

Daily infections have soared since the start of April. Some experts blame mass religious gatherings and political rallies for the severity of the second wave, which caught the government unprepared.

A forum of scientific advisers warned officials in early March of a new and more contagious variant taking hold. Despite the warning, the federal government did not seek to impose major restrictions.

Millions, largely unmasked, attended religious gatherings and election rallies that were held by Mr Modi, leaders of the ruling BJP and opposition politicians.

Visit our Covid-19 vaccine dashboard for updates on the roll out of the vaccination program and the rate of Coronavirus cases Ireland

Reuters



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