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May 9, 2021

Two more Indian states declare lockdown

NEW DELHI: New Covid-19 deaths surged past again in India on Saturday in one of the world’s worst outbreaks, two more states declared lockdown. India now accounts for nearly half of the world’s new known cases according to an AFP database, and it reported 409,300 new cases and more than 4,133 deaths on Saturday. Many experts suspect the official death and case numbers are a gross underestimate. New Delhi has struggled to contain the outbreak, which has overwhelmed its healthcare system and sparked public anger over mismanagement.

“The government says that there is ample supply of medicines and oxygen,” said Brijesh Pandey, who spends hours every day jostling with others to try to secure oxygen for his brother-in-law.

“But look how hundreds of desperate people are struggling to save their brothers, sisters and parents.” The surge has spilled into next-door Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka.

Two southern states in India became the latest to declare lockdowns.

At over 300,000, Karnataka’s capital of Bengaluru has the highest active caseload of any Indian city. But experts warn the worst is still ahead as India’s third-largest city buckles under oxygen shortages, overrun hospitals and crowded crematoriums. In Tamil Nadu state, the lockdown announcement followed a daily record of more than 26,000 cases on Friday. Infections have swelled in India since February in a disastrous turn blamed on more contagious variants.