India nears 20 million Covid cases as Europe reopens its eyes

The total number of Covid-19 cases in India has approached 20 million and oxygen shortages exacerbated a devastating second wave on Monday, as the EU proposed new rules that could allow fully vaccinated travelers to enter the block.

Cases have climbed by around eight million since the end of March, with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi increasingly pressed to take decisive action to reverse the outbreak.

Dozens of people died over the weekend in hospitals hit by shortages that forced clinics in the capital New Delhi to send urgent appeals for help on social media.

“Oxygen is a basic requirement of a hospital and a constant supply has not been ensured. We are constantly fighting fires,” Madhukar Rainbow Children’s Hospital director Dr Dinesh told the Indian Express daily.

The crisis had previously raised questions as to whether the Indian Premier League should move forward, although cricket authorities, who stand to lose hundreds of millions of dollars if arrested, have insisted that it helped boost morale.

But on Monday, the league was forced to postpone its first coronavirus this season, after two players tested positive despite the tournament’s bio-secure “bubble”.

The match – between the Kolkata Knight Riders and the Royal Challengers Bangalore – was called off hours before it started.

Amid severe shortages, Indian state and federal authorities have made efforts to provide extra oxygen to hospitals, including sourcing it from the steel industry and sending special “Oxygen Express” trains. International aid has also poured into the country.

– “ More oxygen ” –

Germany and France sent medical equipment this weekend, including oxygen generating plants.

“There, the hospitals are full. People sometimes die in front of the hospitals. They have no more oxygen,” said German Ambassador Walter J. Lindner.

Stung by defeat in a key state-level election and by a Supreme Court ruling ordering him to rectify the oxygen situation in Delhi by midnight (6.30 p.m. GMT), the struggling prime minister Modi spoke with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Monday.

The two discussed “the current Covid-19 situation in India and the EU,” according to a statement from Modi’s office, the Indian leader thanking the bloc for “mobilizing early support for India’s fight against the second wave “.

– ‘I’m alive again’ –

The grim situation in India stands in stark contrast to the gradual reopening in Europe and other wealthier regions of the world, where rapid vaccination programs backed by easy access to vaccines have helped reduce the number of new cases.

Von der Leyen’s Commission on Monday proposed that travelers fully vaccinated with EU-approved vaccines could re-enter the block, if they come from countries keeping Covid-19 at bay.

“The Commission proposes to allow entry into the EU for non-essential reasons not only for all people coming from countries where the epidemiological situation is good, but also for all people who have received the last recommended dose of ‘a vaccine authorized by the EU,’ the commission said.

Among those preparing for a post-pandemic future is France, which eased movement controls on Monday and allowed the partial return of students to classrooms as part of an opening process. in four steps.

Greece has reopened its outdoor restaurants after six months of closures as it contemplates the start of the tourist season.

“Today I feel like I’m alive again, as if I had been resurrected,” joked Andreas Riminiotis, a retiree enjoying the ambiance of Da Capo cafe in Athens the day after the party. Orthodox Easter.

In a jubilant call to action, Britain’s Prince Harry joined pop royalty, including Jennifer Lopez, at a star-studded concert in Los Angeles on Sunday to call for faster and more consistent vaccinations around the world.

“Vax Live: The Concert To Bring The World Together” featured video messages from Pope and US President Joe Biden and in-person appearances from Hollywood stars such as Ben Affleck and Sean Penn.

– Oktoberfest canceled –

In the north of England, a crowd of 5,000 people danced without covering their faces at a music festival during the country’s first post-lockdown concert.

The Covax Global Vaccination Program, which ensures access to vaccines in the poorest countries, has reached an agreement to purchase 500 million doses of Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine, with doses to go into effect from October .

Meanwhile, Germany canceled its iconic Oktoberfest beer festival for a second year on Monday due to the pandemic.

burs-oho / yad / ach

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