India reports record daily Covid-19 death toll and over 400,000 new cases

The country now accounts for almost half of the world's new cases

Daily coronavirus deaths in India climbed to a record of more than 4,000 as the pandemic intensified in the world’s worst-hit nation.

There were 4,187 deaths, even as experts feared official data are grossly underestimated.

The country now accounts for nearly half of the world's new known cases and its death toll stands at 238,270.

India added 401,078 new cases as the capital New Delhi and other big metro cities continue to report new infections.

Tamil Nadu, a southern state, joined a growing list of provinces to announce a lockdown to curb the spread and ease pressure on the health system.

Hospitals around the country have been overwhelmed by the latest wave of infections with oxygen supplies running short in medical facilities amid the sudden surge in demand.

Meanwhile, EU’s pressure mounted on Washington to end vaccine export limits and offer a concrete plan to lift patents.

"I call very clearly on the United States to put an end to export bans not only on vaccines but on vaccine ingredients, which prevent production," French President Emanuel Macron told reporters at an EU summit in Porto.

He was referring to a de facto US ban on the export of vaccine raw materials.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the EU had exported much of its own production and the US should follow suit.

"I do not think that a patent waiver is the solution to make more vaccines available to more people," she said in Berlin.

"Rather, I think that we need the creativity and the power of innovation of companies – and to me, that includes patent protection."

Earlier, Pope Francis had focused on his desire to see patent waivers to "allow universal access to the vaccine".

He called for the temporary suspension of intellectual property rights, condemning the "virus of individualism" that "makes us indifferent to the suffering of others".

The call for waivers has gained momentum after the US announced surprise support for such a scheme to enable adequate vaccine supplies to fight Covid-19.

In an AFP interview, World Health Organisation's chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan said "early signs were missed [in India] until it reached the point at which it was taking off vertically", meaning "it's multiplying at a rate at which it's very difficult to stop".

India's western neighbour Pakistan began a nine-day shutdown from Saturday targeting travel and tourist hotspots, mobilising its military to help enforce the restrictions.

The aim is to stop its outbreak from snowballing during the coming Eid celebrations at the end of the month of Ramadan.

Updated: May 9, 2021 10:32 AM

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