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PRESSURE is mounting on India’s right-wing Prime Minister Narendra Modi after the country’s Covid-19 case total passed 20 million today.
The figure rose to 20.3 million after a further 355,000 cases were reported, while a further 3,449 deaths brought the death toll to 222,000. However, the true figures are likely to be substantially higher.
The surge in cases has left India’s healthcare system at breaking point, with hospitals running out of oxygen and nearly all beds full.
Opposition leader Rahul Gandhi led calls for a national lockdown, warning that it is now “the only way to stop the spread” of the virus.
But Mr Modi’s government has been reluctant to impose one, fearing the impact on the country’s flagging economy.
A number of states have independently introduced measures in a bid to contain the deadlier second wave of the virus. In communist-led Kerala, strict curbs on non-essential activities and travel came into place today, lasting until the end of the week.
Indian National Congress leader Mr Gandhi said that the national government’s inaction was “killing many innocent people.”
“They allowed — rather they actively helped — the virus reach this stage where there’s no other way to stop it,” he said. “A crime has been committed against India.”
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) demanded urgent action from the government to deal with “the uncontrollable surge of the pandemic across our country.”
It urged Mr Modi to allocate resources to fund a free nationwide mass-vaccination programme and to “focus all attention in ensuring the uninterrupted flow of oxygen supplies to all hospitals and health centres across the country.”
There has been a dramatic drop in vaccinations in the country, with a number of states forced to close vaccination centres as problems with supply and delivery continue.
Mr Modi was accused of ignoring the spread of Covid-19 to focus on the recent state elections, particularly in West Bengal, where his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) campaigned unsuccessfully to dislodge Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress.
The BJP also lost its only seat in Kerala, where the Left Democratic Front won a historic victory with an increased majority.
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