Prime Minister Narendra Modi has issued a stark appeal for India’s regional authorities not to impose state lockdowns, as the country reported more than 200,000 new Covid-19 cases for the sixth straight day on Tuesday.
“We have to save this country from lockdown. I appeal to [Indian] states to consider lockdowns only as a last resort,” Modi said, as he addressed the nation of more than 1.3 billion people.
The PM also urged the manufacturers of Covid vaccines to scale up production in order to immunize the population as soon possible.
India is currently battling a major second wave of Covid-19 infections, which Modi called a “storm”, with several areas of the country experiencing a lack of hospital beds, oxygen and medicines.
Modi defended India’s vaccine rollout and pharmaceutical sector, but admitted the “oxygen situation is a problem.”
A domestic Covid-19 variant called B1617, which features two key mutations in its spike protein, is believed to be helping the virus spread more easily in India.
In the last 24 hours, 1,761 Covid-19 deaths have been reported – a single-day record in the country – as well as 259,170 new infections.
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