Shocking numbers of coronavirus cases have been emerging from India over the past two weeks, overwhelming the country’s health systems and sparking alarm worldwide over a highly contagious variant of the virus emerging in the subcontinent.
350,000 new confirmed cases of the virus were reported on Monday, the 26th of April, alone, setting a tragic world record for one country in a single day since the beginning of the pandemic. The country also recorded 2,800 deaths due to coronavirus on Monday.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued warnings against widespread panic over the variant, however, citing a ‘perfect storm’ of factors as responsible for the outbreak.
On Tuesday, WHO spokesperson Tarik Jašarevic said that “The extent to which these virus changes are responsible for the rapid increase in cases in the country remains unclear, as there are other factors such as recent large gatherings that may have contributed to the rise,”
Adding that “As is true in any country, WHO has said the combination of relaxing of personal protective measures, mass gatherings and more contagious variants while vaccine coverage is still low can create a perfect storm”
He also announced that the WHO intends to accelerate efforts to help the country’s healthcare systems subdue the surge of cases, including 4,000 oxygen concentrators which do not require an energy source to function, vital for the rural areas of the country.
This move by the WHO is part of a widespread international effort to bring medical aid to India. On Tuesday morning, vital medical supplies including ventilators were flown into Delhi from the UK. In addition to this, six oxygen containers were provided by Dubai, and the US president has also pledged “America’s steadfast support” in providing the country with oxygen-related supplies and raw materials vital to vaccine production.
The B1617 variant, with two mutations, was first detected from samples collected in India last December and is said to be more contagious than other variants of the virus detected so far.
Feature image Credit:Govind Krishnan, Unsplash