India saw a grim global record of 401,993 daily Covid-19 cases on Saturday even as it tried to kick off a new round of its vaccination drive despite a shortage of doses.
The new infections took the country’s caseload past 19 million. The total death toll stands at nearly 212,000 with Covid-19 claiming 3,523 lives in the past 24 hours, government data showed.
Hit by a second wave of the pandemic, India is the first country to cross 400,000 daily cases after it reported 300,000 daily infections for nine straight days.
As the surge overwhelmed hospitals and cremation sites, Premier Narendra Modi Friday evening held a cabinet meeting to discuss measures to save the health infrastructure by adding hospital beds and tackling shortages of medical oxygen and anti-viral drugs.
The inoculation campaign in India, among the world’s biggest vaccine producers, is floundering too.
As the federal government widened the drive on Saturday to include all adults over 18 years, many states said they were delaying the new round because they were running low on stocks.
India began vaccinations in January but even the previous round to inoculate those above 45 has faltered with only 10 per cent of the eligible people having received one dose.
The US and Australia have restricted travel from India, with Canberra even warning of a jail term for those trying to return hom.
Several nations, including the US, Britain, Germany and Japan have pledged support to India during the crisis.