PM Modi says India shaken by coronavirus 'storm'


Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said the COVID-19 challenge before the country now is bigger than the a year ago and called for making efforts to ensure that the infectious disease is stopped from hitting villages "by all means".

Amid the surge, there is an acute shortage of oxygen, beds and timely medical care across several states.

On Sunday, a White House spokeswoman said the United States would send raw materials required for India to manufacture Covishield, the AstraZeneca vaccine licensed by SII.

Noting that the second wave of COVID-19 is testing people's patience and their limit to bear pain, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said today that this "toofan" (storm) has shaken the country after it was full of spirit and self-confidence after successfully tackling the first wave.

The amount of new cases reported daily in India has been increasing with no signs of the situation getting better.

Outside a Sikh temple in Ghaziabad city on the outskirts of Delhi the street resembled an emergency ward of a hospital, but cramed with cars carrying Covid-19 patients gasping for breath as they were hooked up to hand held oxygen tanks. "Many of our loved ones left us untimely", he said. "You can consult your family doctor or doctors in the neighbourhood on the phone", he said.

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It said the usual protocol of isolating the case, interviewing them, and tracing their contacts and movements was now under way. New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern said the infected person had been cleaning planes from "high risk countries".

India's total tally of infections stands at 16.96 million and deaths 192 311 after 2 767 more died overnight, health ministry data showed. The programme is broadcasted on the last Sunday of every month. "This is highly commendable", he said.

"Our hearts go out to the Indian people in the midst of the horrific Covid-19 outbreak", US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said on twitter.

The United States has faced criticism in India for its export controls on raw materials for vaccines put in place via the Defence Production Act and an associated export embargo in February. He urged Indians not to fall prey to rumours about vaccines. He also commended Dr. Shah for working hard during Ramzan.

The SVAMITVA (Survey of Villages and Mapping with Improvised Technology in Village Areas) scheme was launched by the prime minister on April 24, 2020, as a central scheme to promote a socio-economically empowered and self-reliant rural India.

He has not only been in the frontline of fighting the pandemic by attending to scores of Covid patients on a daily basis, but he is also a Covid-19 infection survivor.

Paul did not respond to a Reuters request for comment.