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India hits 100 million vaccinations as Covid-19 cases surge to record numbers

The country reported a record-high daily total of almost 153,000 coronavirus cases Sunday with 839 new deaths, according to health ministry figures. India’s total caseload stands at more than 13.5 million — second only to the United States and Brazil — including nearly 170,000 fatalities.

On the same day, vaccinations topped 100 million, with India being the fastest country globally to reach that milestone, reaching the figure in just 85 days, said the health ministry.
The union territory of Delhi, of which capital city New Delhi is a part, has been hard-hit by the new wave of the pandemic. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwa announced a record single-day case rise on Sunday, of more than 10,000 new infections.

“Delhi is witnessing the fourth wave of coronavirus pandemic” warned Kejriwal. “The situation is worrisome, the government is working to improve it.”

At least 37 doctors serving at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in New Delhi have tested positive for Covid-19 — after previously receiving both doses of the vaccine.

The doctors have mild symptoms but 32 are under home isolation, while five chose to get admitted at the hospital to avoid the risk of infecting their families, the hospital’s spokesperson confirmed to CNN. Hospital authorities are looking into the source of their infection, discovered Thursday, and further contact tracing is underway, the official added.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday announced a four-day vaccination drive starting Sunday.

India is now regularly administering over 3 million vaccines a day, surpassing the United States’ daily rollout and gaining on China’s, according to University of Oxford research group Our World in Data.

States such as Maharashtra, Odisha and Punjab have complained of vaccine shortages, however, and several districts in Maharashtra have had to suspend inoculation drives, the state’s health minister said Thursday.

According to a senior administrative official in Mumbai, more than 70 centers in the city have said they do not have vaccines available. The central government has said it is doing everything it can to help the states, according to statement from the health minister earlier this week.

The Serum Institute of India, the world’s biggest vaccine maker, is producing Covid-19 vaccines for countries participating in the global vaccine-sharing initiative COVAX, but deliveries will be delayed in April as India battles the new wave of infections.
Raghav Chadha, national spokesperson for the Aam Aadmi Party, wrote to Modi Saturday asking he adopt a policy of “vaccine nationalism”

“Do not let vaccination centre [sic] shut while doses are being flown out of the country,” he said.

On Saturday, Kejriwal announced a slew of new restrictions in Delhi to fight the coronavirus spike there.

This includes a ban on all gatherings (social, political or religious), a cap on attendance at weddings and funerals at 50 and 20 people respectively, and restaurants, movie theaters and public transport must operate at half occupancy.

Delhi authorities announced Friday that all educational institutions will remain closed until further notice.

The rise in cases comes as India’s top researchers announced last month that there are nearly 800 variants of concern present in the country.

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