India has recorded its worst day on record as it reels from its latest debilitating coronavirus crisis, recording a whopping 360,960 new infections and 3293 deaths in last 24-hour period.
The new figures mark an incredible jump after the nation recorded 220,000 fresh cases on Tuesday.
India has now reported a total of 18 million infections, with the latest daily spike the highest a single country has ever recorded in a 24-hour period.
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the world was doing everything it can to help the struggling country, which has spent the last week breaking global infection records.
“WHO is doing everything we can, providing critical equipment and supplies, including thousands of oxygen concentrators, prefabricated mobile field hospitals and laboratory supplies,” he said.
RELATED: India hit with massive earthquake
This month alone, the country has added almost six million new cases.
The explosion in infections, blamed in part on a new virus variant as well as mass political and religious events, has overwhelmed hospitals and caused a dire shortage of beds, drugs and oxygen.
The crisis is particularly severe in New Delhi, with people dying outside packed hospitals where three people are often forced to share beds. Clinics have been running out of oxygen.
India has so far administered 150 million vaccine shots and from Saturday, the program will be expanded to include all adults, meaning 600 million more people will be eligible.
However, many states are warning that they have insufficient vaccine stocks and experts are calling on the government to prioritise vulnerable groups and badly-hit areas.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has come under fire for his response to the “tsunami” after reports of the Indian government censoring anti-Modi tweets filtered through the press.
RELATED: India’s COVID crisis threatens ‘whole world’
Former Twitter boss in India Raheel Khursheed said the government shouldn’t be preoccupied with controlling public discourse as history unfolds before their eyes, calling for increased support for hospitals at capacity.
“In a pandemic the Indian government should be concerning itself with diffusing the situation rather than diffusing the news of the situation,” he told BBC Newsnight this week.
“If there are people lining up outside crematoriums waiting for their turns for over 48 to 72 hours, what you should be busy figuring out is how to diffuse that situation.
“What you should be basically figuring out is how to get oxygen to hospitals.”
Just as everyone thought it couldn’t get worse for the world’s second most populous nation, a massive 6.2 magnitude earthquake tore through the Assam region of the country on Wednesday. Shocking footage of the earthquake’s destruction has been shared on social media by witnesses, with a locals describing it as one of the strongest they’ve experienced.
“This earthquake was the biggest I can remember, there was first a big jolt and then a smaller one,” a police official in the town told Reuters.
However, no deaths have been recorded so far.
Australia has begun to see the effects of the ongoing crisis in India as people attempt to leave the country in droves. WA Premier Mark McGowan said the state was preparing for more cases after a flight touched down in Perth on Tuesday carrying 78 passengers who had recently been in India.
Mr McGowan said two of the four new WA cases in hotel quarantine likely brought the virus from the subcontinent.
RELATED: ‘Half a billion cases’: Fears of virus cover-up
“So many people are dying, it’s awful,” he told reporters on Wednesday.
“But we’ve seen over the course of the last week it puts a lot of pressure on our system, so we’re doing all we can to make sure that Australia and Western Australia remain in a good condition.
“It means we have to make tough decisions.”
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced Australia would be suspending all direct flights to India until May 15, leaving over 9000 Aussies – including a number of cricketers playing in the IPL – stranded.
Massive oxygen shortages have NGOs working around the clock in the country’s most densely populated urban sprawls to help the worst affected with the virus.
Australia’s federal government is currently in talks about sending excess respirators to India’s overrun healthcare system.
If you’re wondering how you can do your part to help, consider checking out some of the best charities working on the ground in India in our article here.