India: Dominic Raab pledges to support during ‘hour of need’
Dr VK Paul told a briefing on India’s COVID-19 situation: “If there is COVID-19 positive case in the family, it is very important that the person wears a mask even indoors because the virus can spread to others in the home. I would rather go on to say that the time has come that we start wearing mask at home even otherwise.” Hospitals in India are beyond capacity and oxygen is running out, prompting World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to label the crisis in India as “beyond heartbreaking”. Follow our live blog here for the latest news on India’s fight against coronavirus. All times in BST.
- India hits new global record for rise in cases for fifth day running
- 352,991 new daily cases have been recorded, bringing India’s total caseload to 17 million
- As of April 25, one out of every two people taking a RT-PCR test in Calcutta and its suburbs are testing postive for COVID-19
- Hospitals in New Delhi and worst-hit states have reported critical shortages of beds and oxygen supplies
- The US, UK and Germany have offered support
Covid in India LIVE: 17mil infected as 1 in 2 in Calcutta positive – ‘Wear masks at home!’
Covid in India LIVE: A cremation ground in New Delhi for the victims of COVID-19
5am update: South African official backs India over Covid spike – ‘Different countries had the same’
South Africa’s Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said India’s coronavirus crisis has happened elsewhere in the world, defending the country’s vaccine rollout.
He was asked by the broadcaster SABC why the vaccination programme in India had not stopped the country’s surge in cases and deaths.
The official told the station: “Different countries have had the same experience.
“While they are going through the vaccination, the next wave was coming through so you cannot necessarily say that the vaccination will stop it.
“Many countries have gone through what India is going through – the UK and countries in Europe had exactly the same problem.
“What we have learned from our side is that we went through the second wave without any vaccines and we managed to get our numbers down because of our precautionary measures (of masks and social distancing).”
4am update: Covid spike in India ‘beyond heartbreaking’ – WHO Chief
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, head of the World Health Organization, has said the coronavirus spike in India is “beyond heartbreaking”.
Speaking in a press briefing, he said: “WHO is doing everything we can, providing critical equipment and supplies, including thousands of oxygen concentrators, prefabricated mobile field hospitals and laboratory supplies.”
The WHO has redeployed 2,600 staff members from other programs in India to help support the effort to fight the disease.
3am update: IPL cricketeer donates $50,000 to India for Covid battle
Pat Cummins has donated $50,000 ASD (£28,045 GBP) to pay for medical supplies in India.
Mr Cummins plays for IPL club Kolkata Knight Riders and has paid the donation to the PM CARES Fund, which will go towards oxygen supplies for coronavirus patients at India’s overwhelmed hospitals.
On his social media accounts, he posted: “To know so many are suffering so much at this time saddens me greatly.
“At times like this it is easy to feel helpless. I’ve certainly felt that of late.
“But I hope by making this public appeal we can all channel our emotions into action that will bring light into people’s lives.
“I know my donation isn’t much in the grand scheme of things, but I hope it will make a difference to someone.”
Covid in India LIVE: Pat Cummins, IPL cricketeer, has donated $50,000 ASD coronavirus relief
2am update: Australia suspends flights to India, officials have ‘obligation’ to support stranded people
Reports have suggested Australia’s federal Government will announce all flights to India will be stopped from today.
Sky News Australia reported commercial flights will be suspended with all those returning forced to quarantine, but “repatriation flights will continue”.
It comes as Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews says Australia has an obligation to support the 8,000 Australians stranded in India.
She told Channel Nine: “Our primary responsibility is to keep Australians safe and secure, so that is our overarching responsibility.”
12:45am update: India Covid crisis: Doctor says ‘next two weeks will be hell’ as pandemic ‘critical’
India’s situation has been described as “critical” as the country struggles to tackle the a huge surge in coronavirus casualties amid oxygen shortages.
Delhi doctors has issued a stark warning about how the situation could worsen, as patients are tended to in tents on hospital grounds.
One doctor described the health crisis as “the worst we have ever seen,” adding that the next two weeks will prove critical for healthcare workers.
Dr Shaarang Sachdev, from the Aakash Healthcare Super Speciality Hospital, told Sky News: “The situation is critical right now.
“This pandemic is the worst we have ever seen until now.
“The next two weeks are going to be hell for us.”
11:45pm update: India running out of Covid vaccines claims state government
India is reportedly running out of coronavirus vaccines just as the country is set to open the jab rollout to everyone over 18.
On May 1, about 900 million more people will become eligible for coronavirus vaccines.
Several of the worst affected state Governments, including Rajasthan, Punjab, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh, have said there is already a shortage or complete lack of availability of jabs and they had been unable to order more.
India’s Serum Institute, the country’s largest vaccine producer and manufacturer of the Oxford and AstraZeneca vaccine, have been struggling to meet demand, with capacity to currently make only 70 million doses a month.
Balbir Singh Sidhu, Punjab health minister, said: “There is no way vaccination can be given if the vaccine is not available. The situation is very clear.
“The centre is saying that vaccinations have been opened to all … but vaccines are not available.”
Raghu Sharma, Rajasthan health minister, added: “They [Serum Institute] are not in a position to give the vaccine to us.
“The question before us is: we have 30.13 million people in the 18-45 age group; how will we vaccinate them?”
Covid in India LIVE: A doctor has said the ‘next two weeks will be hell’
Dylan Donnelly takes over reporting from Katie Sewell
10.33pm update: First UK medical supplies have arrived in India
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the first UK medical supplies have now arrived in India.
Mr Raab tweeted: “Good to see the first of our medical supplies have now arrived in India and will be deployed where they are needed most.
“No one is safe until we are all safe. International collaboration is key to fighting this global threat.”
9.34pm: Indian government requests critical tweets be removed from Twitter
According to Reuters, the Indian government asked Twitter to take down dozens of tweets which were critical of the government’s handling of the Covid crisis.
Some of the critical tweets were made by local lawmakers, as Covid cases reached a record peak in the country.
Twitter has withheld some of the tweets after the legal request by the Indian government, a company spokeswoman told the news agency on Saturday.
The government made an emergency order to censor the tweets, Twitter disclosed on Lumen database, a Harvard University project.
Covid in India LIVE: Countries have pledged to send oxygen and supplies to India
9.10pm update: India’s total Covid death toll exceeds 195,000
On Monday, at least 2,182 people died from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours.
However, some reports suggest the COVID-19 death toll in India could be even higher.
More than 195,000 people in India have died from the virus since the pandemic began.
8.28pm update: France to send ‘substantial medical aid’ to India
The Elysee presidential palace said on Monday that France will supply India with “substantial medical aid”.
The shipments to India will include oxygen generators, respirators and cryogenic containers.
The shipments to India are expected to start next weekend.
Covid in India LIVE: 352,991 new daily Covid cases have been recorded, bringing India’s total caseload to 17 million
8.03pm update: WHO says India’s Covid crisis is ‘beyond heartbreaking’
World Health Organisation (WHO) director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has said the deadly increase in India’s Covid-19 cases is “beyond heartbreaking”.
His comments at a press briefing in Geneva came as Dr Maria van Kerkhove, of the WHO Health Emergencies Programme, described coronavirus rates globally as being in a “fragile situation” as several nations, including the UK, said they were sending help to India.
She said: “This can happen in any country if we let our guard down. I am not saying that India has let its guard down but I am saying that we are in a fragile situation.
“Nine weeks of case incidence increasing and almost 5.7 million cases reported last week – that is almost certainly an underestimate of the true number of cases of infections that have occurred.
“The situation is fragile. The situation can grow if we allow it to and that is why it is important that every single person on the planet knows they have a role to play.
“We need governments to be able to support them in taking the actions that will inform them about what they need to do and keep them safe.”
7.29pm update: ‘Heaven and earth’ being moved to help with crisis
Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said on Twitter: “Air, Rail, Road & Sea; Heaven & earth are being moved to overcome challenges thrown up by this wave of COVID19.”
Dr Harsh Vardhan also had a video call with UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock earlier today.
Dr Vardhan tweeted: “Allies you can count on! It was a pleasure to interact with Secretary of State for Health & Social Care, UK, Mr @MattHancock via VC, today. We discussed efficacy of #COVID19Vaccines against variants of the virus & collaborative measures to tackle #COVID19″.
India: Patients waiting ‘hours’ to receive oxygen says expert
6.46pm update: Army deployed to help with oxygen
India has ordered its armed forces on Monday to help tackle surging new coronavirus infections.
In a meeting with the country’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, the Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat said oxygen would be sent to hospitals from armed forces reserves.
He also said retired medical military personnel would join COVID-19 health facilities.
6.31pm update: US to share AstraZeneca vaccines with other nations
US President Joe Biden has confirmed 60 million AstraZeneca vaccine doses will be distributed to other countries.
He wrote on Twitter: “U.S. to release 60 million AstraZeneca doses to other countries as they become available.”
The Biden administration said in March it would send roughly four million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to Canada and Mexico.
The US is now under growing pressure to share vaccines with India and other countries.
Covid in India LIVE: Countries have pledged to send aid to India to help with the crisis
6.16pm update: Government ‘assessing what more we can do’ to help India
When asked in the Commons today how the UK could further help India, Foreign Office minister James Cleverly said: “India remains a longstanding and close friend of the United Kingdom.
“They have come to our aid in our times of difficulty and it is absolutely right that we reciprocate that now.
“I am very proud of the fact the UK Government has moved quickly to help supply oxygen-related technologies.
“We are also committed to making sure both the scientific breakthroughs that the teams at Oxford University have created alongside AstraZeneca will be shared globally around the world – and we are assessing what more that we can do to support one of our very, very longstanding friends around the world.”
6.12pm update: Every second person in Calcutta testing positive for COVID-19
The Times of India reported on April 25 that one out of every two people taking a RT-PCR test in Calcutta and its suburbs are testing postive for COVID-19.
A doctor working in one of the Covid testing laboratories in the state said the positivity rate was 45 to 55 percent in Calcutta and its surrounding areas.
Covid cases remain high in other parts of the state, with the positive rate standing at 24 percent.
Covid in India LIVE: Hospitals in India are running out of oxygen
5.47pm – Narendra Modi speaks to Joe Biden
The Indian Prime Minister tweeted: “Had a fruitful conversation with
@POTUS @JoeBiden today. We discussed the evolving COVID situation in both countries in detail.
“I thanked President Biden for the support being provided by the United States to India.
“My discussion with @POTUS @JoeBiden also underscored the importance of smooth and efficient supply chains of vaccine raw materials and medicines.
“India-US healthcare partnership can address the global challenge of COVID-19.”
5.45pm update: WHO pledges to send oxygen and staff to India as crisis worsens
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has announced extra staff and supplies are being deployed to India to help with the coronavirus crisis.
He told a briefing: “WHO is doing everything we can, providing critical equipment and supplies, including thousands of oxygen concentrators, prefabricated mobile field hospitals and laboratory supplies.”
He said he had already announced 2,600 extra WHO staff members were going to India to help support the effort to fight the disease.