India opposition leader calls for national lockdown as Covid cases top 20 million - but infection rate dips

The second wave of Covid cases in India has seen 20 million infections across the country – with 3 million active cases

India’s health ministry has said Covid cases across the country have dipped – as nationwide cases top 20 million.

On Tuesday, India reported 357,229 new cases over the last 24 hours with opposition party ministers calling for a countrywide lockdown.

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India is now the second nation – following the the United States – to pass the grim milestone.

India has not been locked down so-far during their second wave as Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government has reportedly been reluctant due to the economic fall out.

Opposition leader Rahul Gandhi Tweeted: “I just want to make it clear that a lockdown is now the only option because of a complete lack of strategy by GOI (Government of India).

“They allowed, rather, they actively helped the virus reach this stage where there’s no other way to stop it.”

Experts claim that because of a lack of testing and patients dying at home – the real number of Covid cases have not been reported properly.

Patients rest inside a banquet hall temporarily converted into a Covid-19 coronavirus ward in New Delhi on April 27, 2021. (Money SHARMA / AFP/ Getty Images)

The outbreak has left many hospitals overrun and struggling to cope with demand, and oxygen supplies remain critically low, along with tests and hospital beds.

Hospitals have even put calls out for breathing apparatus online and everyday thousands of patients turn to queuing for hours for portable top-up canisters.

Double mutant strain

The discovery of a new ‘double mutant’ Covid-19 variant in the country has been blamed as one of the main factors for the rising cases, with the strain causing alarm because it has two spike proteins instead of one.

Britain has sent more than 600 pieces of medical equipment to the country, with the Foreign, including ventilators and oxygen concentrators from surplus stocks.

Foreign aid also arrived from Singapore, while Russia, New Zealand and France pledged to send emergency medical equipment, along with Pakistan and China who have put aside their differences and pledged to help.

‘It’s heartbreaking’

Asked what more Britain could do to help with the Covid situation in India, International Trade Secretary Liz Truss told Sky News on May 4: “Well it’s a heart-breaking situation in India and my heart goes out to the people of India and the severe problems they’re facing.

“The UK has already sent 600 pieces of equipment out, we’re sending oxygen out and we’ve got another shipment going out this week as well, and we’re working very, very closely with partners across the world to make sure India has the supplies it needs.

“And of course India was of huge help to the UK last year, making sure we had the paracetamol we need, they’re a close ally of the UK and we… really are working hard to make sure that we can help as much as possible.”

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