Devastating virus surge spreads impact into India’s politics

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India has recorded another 368,147 coronavirus infections and 3,400 deaths as a catastrophic surge ripples through the country

The latest numbers came after leaders of 13 opposition parties penned a letter to urge the government to launch a free vaccination drive as well as ensure uninterrupted flow of oxygen to all hospitals. Several hospital authorities over the weekend sought court intervention over oxygen supplies in New Delhi, where a lockdown has been extended by a week to contain the wave of infections.

“Water has gone above the head. Enough is enough,” said New Delhi High Court, adding it would start punishing government officials if supplies of oxygen allocated to hospitals were not delivered.

Modi’s party on Sunday suffered a resounding election defeat in a key state, West Bengal, failing to dislodge its firebrand chief minister, Mamata Banerjee. The BJP retained power in northeastern Assam state but lost in two southern states.

While the four states were already stiff election challenges for the BJP apart from the pandemic, analysts say the results weaken Modi’s position as surging infections cripple the already fragile health system.

Meanwhile, the world’s biggest cricket tournament, the Indian Premier League, released a statement saying Monday’s match between the Royal Challengers Bangalore and Kolkata Knight Riders would be rescheduled after two players tested positive. The two players have self-isolated and medical personnel were tracing their contacts.

Despite rising cases, the league has held matches every evening behind closed doors since it kicked off in April.

India has confirmed 19.9 million cases of infection since the start of the pandemic, behind only the U.S., which counts more than 32.4 million. More than 218,000 people in India have died from COVID-19, according to the health ministry. Both figures are thought to be vast undercounts.

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