India is reporting the world’s highest single-day death toll from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Health Ministry Wednesday said 4,529 people died in a 24-hour period, the first time the South Asian nation posted more than 4,500 single-day deaths during the pandemic.
India now has 283,248 COVID-19 related deaths out of more than 25.4 million total infections, placing it second behind the United States, which leads the world with 587,219 deaths out of a confirmed 32.9 million total infections.
A surge of new infections in the world’s second most-populous country has created a humanitarian disaster, with hospitals filled to capacity and an acute shortage of oxygen to treat the sick, with scores of makeshift crematories rushing to burn the dead. Experts believe the actual casualty figures are much higher than the official figures.
Amid growing calls to cancel the upcoming Tokyo Olympics due to a growing surge of new COVID-19 infections, International Olympics Committee President Thomas Bach pledged Wednesday in the Japanese capital that both the Olympics and the following Paralympic Games will be safe for everyone involved.
Bach promised that more than 80% of residents in the Olympic Village would be vaccinated against COVID-19, and that extra medical personnel from various national Olympic committees would be available to help out during the games.
The demand to cancel the Olympics got its strongest boost Monday when the Tokyo Medical Practitioners Association, which represents 6,000 primary care doctors and hospitals, posted an open letter to Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga Monday warning that hospitals in the Japanese capital city “have their hands full and have almost no spare capacity.”
The surge has prompted authorities to place Tokyo and several other prefectures under a state of emergency. The Olympics are scheduled to begin July 23 after a one-year delay because of the pandemic. The Paralympic Games are set to begin on August 23.
Taiwan on Level 3 alert
Authorities in Taiwan announced Wednesday the island will be receiving 400,000 AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines through the World Health Organization’s COVAX initiative as authorities raised its alert level for the entire island.
The Level 3 alert, which was already in effect for the capital, Taipei, imposes a near-lockdown on the island, with all non-essential businesses forced to close and residents required to wear a face covering while outdoors. The alert also limits personal gatherings to five people indoors and 10 outdoors.
The self-ruled island had been held up as one of the world’s fewest success stories in containing the spread of the coronavirus, with just 2,017 total cases and 12 deaths, but it has been dealing with a sudden outbreak of new infections that authorities have connected to outbreaks among flight crews with state-owned China Airlines and a hotel at Taoyuan International Airport.
Taipei reported 267 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, just two days after posting a record-high 335 new infections. The island has 2,260 total confirmed infections and 14 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.