Speed Reads

COVID in India

India sets a 5th straight COVID-19 infection record, as U.S. and other countries pledge help

India on Monday reported 352,991 new COVID-19 infections, its fifth consecutive day of setting a new global record for infections over a 24-hour period. India has now recorded more than 17 million cases and, with Sunday's 2,812 new COVID-19 deaths, 195,123 official fatalities from the pandemic. Based partly on the nonstop fires at overwhelmed crematoriums, India's actual death toll is believed to be several times higher than the official count. Hospitals are full and supplies, notably oxygen, are dangerously low.

On Sunday, the U.S. became the latest country to offer help to India as it struggles to tame its devastating second wave of infections. The National Security Council said the U.S. will provide key materials for India to produce vaccines, plus drugs, test kits, ventilators, and personal protective equipment; Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the Pentagon will help deliver supplies, including "oxygen-related equipment," to India in coming days. "Just as India sent assistance to the United States as our hospitals were strained early in the pandemic, the United States is determined to help India in its time of need," President Biden tweeted Sunday.

Britain, the European Union, China, Russia, and Pakistan were among the other countries that offered oxygen, medicine, and other supplies to India, and Singapore and Germany have already sent oxygen and mobile oxygen generation plants. In his monthly radio address Sunday, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged Indians to get vaccinated and said everyone 18 and older will be eligible starting May 1. In Delhi, the capital, 1 in 3 people tested for COVID-19 is positive, and that rate rises to 1 in 2 in Kolkata. Every death is a blow to India's self-assurance, BBC News reports.

Meanwhile, Modi's government "has moved to silence critics on social media, according to documents published by the Lumen Database, a transparency initiative run by Harvard University," The Washington Post reports. Among the tweets no longer visible in India, after officials filed complaints with Twitter, is one from West Bengal State Minister Moloy Ghatak. "When death bodies were burning, Nero was busy doing election rallies," he tweeted over twin images of a mass cremation and a Modi rally. This tweet, however, is still live. Peter Weber