A deadly hospital fire in western India early Saturday added to the nation’s misery because it battles new international data in a staggering second wave of coronavirus circumstances that has left tens of millions contaminated and put extra stress on India’s already overtaxed well being care system.

The blaze ripped via a Covid-19 ward in the metropolis of Bharuch, killing a minimum of 18 individuals — 16 of them sufferers, two of them well being care employees — officials told local news outlets. Efforts have been underway to decide the fire’s trigger, and fire division officers mentioned a brief circuit might need led to the blaze.

The episode got here as the United States introduced that it could start restricting travel from India subsequent week as a surge of circumstances and deaths overwhelms the South Asian country, which continued its catastrophic run of record coronavirus transmissions on Saturday with greater than 400,000 new reported circumstances and 3,500 deaths. No different nation has surpassed 400,000 reported circumstances in a single day.

The second wave has crammed hospitals and left individuals dying as they wait to see medical doctors. Relatives of the sick are sharing pleas on social media for oxygen, medicine and other scarce supplies. There have been greater than 19 million confirmed circumstances in India and greater than 211,000 deaths, in accordance to a New York Times database. Experts say the true numbers are probably much higher.

The nation’s well being system — fragile and underfunded even in regular instances — is displaying indicators of pressure. The fire in Bharuch, in Gujarat State, got here after a number of latest accidents in Indian hospitals which have claimed the lives of Covid-19 sufferers.

A separate fire this week killed four people at a hospital in Surat, one other metropolis in Gujarat. At least 22 Covid-19 sufferers died at a hospital a few days earlier in the neighboring state of Maharashtra when a leak reduce off their oxygen provide. And two days later, a fire at another hospital in Maharashtra left a minimum of 13 Covid-19 sufferers useless.

On Saturday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi offered condolences to the households of the victims in Bharuch, and Gujarat’s chief minister, Vijay Rupani, mentioned the state authorities would give about $5,300 in help to every sufferer’s household. Critics of Mr. Modi, who campaigned in large state election rallies and allowed a Hindu pageant with tens of millions of worshipers to happen whilst infections rose, say his overconfidence and missteps contributed to the devastating second wave, tarnishing the prime minister’s aura of political invulnerability.

The United States joined nations together with Australia, Britain and Canada in curbing travel from India. The U.S. restrictions, that are anticipated to take impact on Tuesday, is not going to apply to residents or everlasting residents of the United States, their spouses or minor youngsters or siblings, or to the dad and mom of residents or everlasting residents who’re below 21.

Those exempt from the ban should nonetheless adjust to earlier requirements for international travelers, together with a detrimental check end result for the virus earlier than touring and once more upon getting into the United States from India. They should additionally quarantine if they aren’t vaccinated.

Starting on Monday, Australia will bar all travelers, together with its personal residents, from getting into if they’ve been in India throughout the earlier two weeks, with violators topic to jail phrases and heavy fines. Officials acknowledged that the measure was “very drastic” however mentioned it was crucial to hold Australians protected.

The United States and different governments have pledged their help to India because it grapples with the world’s gravest coronavirus disaster since the pandemic started. The White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, mentioned on Friday that navy cargo planes had begun the first deliveries of emergency provides promised by the Biden administration.

On Saturday, India expanded vaccinations to all individuals over age 18, however many states mentioned that they might not give you the chance to meet the demand because of a lack of doses. Less than 2 p.c of India’s 940 million adults have been absolutely vaccinated, in accordance to a Times database.





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