India set a record Saturday, for the first time surpassing 400,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
The new infections count for the previous 24-hour period was a record 401,993 cases, according to India’s health ministry. Public health officials believe the actual count may be at least five times higher.
“This virus has shown us that if left to its own devices, it will explode in society,” top U.S. infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci said in an interview with Indian Express newspaper. “If you don’t respect its ability to cause serious damage, you are going to get into trouble.”
Fauci recommended a lockdown for India.
“Literally, lock down so that you wind up having less spread. No one likes to lock down the country. … But if you do it just for a few weeks, you could have a significant impact on the dynamics of the outbreak.”
Overall, India has 19,164,969 coronavirus infections and 211,853 deaths, the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center said Saturday. The U.S. has the most cases in the world, with more than 32 million, according to Johns Hopkins. There are more than 151 million global infections.
In New Delhi, 12 patients died Saturday when their hospital ran out of oxygen for 80 minutes.
Also Saturday, 18 others people died when a fire erupted in a COVID-19 ward at a hospital in western India. Authorities say 30 patients were rescued from the ground floor fire at the Welfare Hospital in Bharuch, in Gujarat state.
It was not immediately clear what caused the fire, officials said. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi posted on Twitter that he was “Pained by the loss of lives due to a fire” at the hospital. “Condolences to the bereaved families,” he added.
India expanded its vaccine eligibility Saturday to anyone 18 and older, but many locations are saying that they just do not have any vaccines.
The country did receive some good news Saturday: Its first shipment of Sputnik V vaccine arrived from Russia, which is to send 125 million doses in all.
Only 2% of India’s 1.3 billion people have been vaccinated.
In Brazil, thousands of people ignored their own coronavirus surge Saturday to march in the streets of Brasilia, Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro in support of President Jair Bolsonaro.
The South American country has recorded more than 400,000 deaths, including more than 2,600 on Saturday. It is second only to the U.S. in COVID-19 deaths. The U.S. has more than 576,600 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins.
Bolsonaro, who opposes pandemic restrictions put in place by governors and mayors, recently said the army “could take to the street one day, to ensure … freedom to come and go.” Some of Saturday’s banners called for a “military intervention” and bolstering Bolsonaro’s powers.
In Wuhan, China, the two-day Wuhan Strawberry Music Festival opened Saturday. About 11,000 people danced and sang along with their favorite bands on three stages, with the crowds at each limited.