A patient wearing an oxygen mask is wheeled inside a COVID-19 hospital for treatment, amidst the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Ahmedabad, India, April 26, 2021. Amit Dave | Reuters
A patient wearing an oxygen mask is wheeled inside a COVID-19 hospital for treatment, amidst the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Ahmedabad, India, April 26, 2021. Amit Dave | Reuters

India's COVID-19 Cases Rise by 392,488 - Health Ministry

India's new coronavirus cases rose by 392,488, while deaths from COVID-19 jumped by 3,689 over the past 24 hours, according to health ministry data released on Sunday.

A man stands next to a funeral pyre of a relative who died from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), during a mass cremation, at a crematorium in New Delhi, India May 1, 2021. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi
A man stands next to a funeral pyre of a relative who died from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), during a mass cremation, at a crematorium in New Delhi, India May 1, 2021. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

India's total case load now stands at 19.56 million with 215,542 killed by the virus.

The world’s biggest producer of Covid-19 vaccines has a limited number of shots available, worsening a grim second wave of infections that has overwhelmed hospitals and morgues while families scramble for scarce medicines and oxygen.

Hundreds of people were seen queuing to be vaccinated across Ahmedabad, the main commercial city in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state of Gujarat, on Saturday.

The chief minister of the hard-hit state of Delhi on Friday implored people not to queue at vaccination centers, promising more vaccines would arrive “tomorrow or the day after”.

India’s eastern Odisha state said on Friday it had received a consignment of 150,000 shots but would only allow a few people to get shots due to lockdown restrictions preventing movement.

The total number ofCovid cases in India has topped 19 million. As the second wave has picked up steam, India has added about 7.7 million cases since the end of February, according to a Reuters tally. In contrast, it took India nearly six months to add the previous 7.7 million cases, CNBC reported.

The surge in cases led U.S. President Joe Biden to impose new travel restrictions on India on Friday, barring most non-U.S. citizens from entering the United States.

Australian officials said residents and citizens who have been in India within 14 days of the date they plan to return home will be banned from entering Australia as of Monday, and those who disobey will face fines and jail.

Other countries and territories have also imposed similar travel restrictions on India, including Britain, Germany, Italy and Singapore, while Canada, Hong Kong and New Zealand have suspended all commercial travel with India.

Taiwan's first batch of COVID-19 aid leaves for India

Countries around the world have been rushing to help India alleviate the crisis.PHOTO: REUTERS
Countries around the world have been rushing to help India alleviate the crisis.PHOTO: REUTERS

Taiwan's first batch of aid to India to help it fight a surging increase in Covid-19 infections left for New Delhi on Sunday (May 2), consisting of 150 oxygen concentrators and 500 oxygen cylinders, Taiwan's Foreign Ministry said.

Countries around the world have been rushing to help India alleviate the crisis. India recorded more than 400,000 new Covid-19 cases for the first time on Saturday as it battles a devastating second wave, according to Reuters.

Taiwan's Foreign Ministry said the aid consignment left on a China Airlines freighter on Sunday morning and would be received by India's Red Cross.

Taiwan will continue to provide aid as needed, it added.

"These oxygen concentrators & cylinders are love from Taiwan. More help for our friends in India is on the way.

#IndiaStayStrong!" Foreign Minister Joseph Wu tweeted.

An oxygen concentrator reduces nitrogen from an air supply to produce an oxygen-enriched air supply to a patient.

While India, like most countries, has no formal diplomatic ties with Chinese-claimed Taiwan, the two have drawn closer in recent years thanks to their shared antipathy of Beijing.

Taiwan sees India as an important like-minded democracy and friend, and there are close cultural and economic links too.

Last year, Taiwan accused Beijing of trying to impose censorship in India after China's embassy in New Delhi advised local journalists to observe the "one-China" principle following advertisements in newspapers that marked Taiwan's national day.

****READ MORE: India Covid-19 Vaccine: Amid Severe Shortage, Only 6 States to Begin Vaccination for 18 +

Indian scientists flag virus mutations that could ‘evade immune response’

Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters

A forum of scientific advisers set up by the Indian government has told authorities about minor mutations in some samples of the coronavirus that could “possibly evade immune response” and require more study, a leader of the forum has told Reuters.

However the advisers said while they were flagging the mutations, there was no reason currently to believe they were expanding or could be dangerous.

Scientists are studying what led to the current surge in cases in India and particularly whether a variant first detected in the country, called B.1.617, is to blame. The World Health Organization has not declared the Indian variant a “variant of concern,” as it has done for variants first detected in Britain, Brazil and South Africa. But the WHO said on April 27 that its early modelling, based on genome sequencing, suggested that B.1.617 had a higher growth rate than other variants circulating in India.

The forum of advisers, known as the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genetics Consortium, or INSACOG, has now found more mutations in the coronavirus that it thinks need to be tracked closely.

"We are seeing some mutation coming up in some samples that could possibly evade immune responses," said Shahid Jameel, chair of the scientific advisory group of INSACOG and a top Indian virologist. He did not say if the mutations have been seen in the Indian variant or any other strain.

"Unless you culture those viruses and test them in the lab, you can't say for sure. At this point, there is no reason to believe that they are expanding or if they can be dangerous, but we flagged it so that we keep our eye on the ball," he said.

INSACOG brings together 10 national research laboratories.

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