COVID-19 cases hit record number as deaths surge
India’s infections pass 18m
Published: Apr 29, 2021 06:53 PM
India's total COVID-19 cases passed 18 million on Thursday after another world record daily infection and as the government rejected reports of problems with its vaccine campaign.

A woman receives Oxygen sitting in an autorickshaw at Gurukul School, Ghatkopr in Mumbai, India, on Wednesday. Photo: VCG

A woman receives Oxygen sitting in an autorickshaw at Gurukul School, Ghatkopr in Mumbai, India, on Wednesday. Photo: VCG

India reported 379,257 new COVID-19 cases and 3,645 new deaths on Thursday, according to health ministry data. It was the highest number of deaths reported in a single day in India since the start of the pandemic.

India's best hope to curb its second deadly wave of COVID-19 was to vaccinate its vast population, said experts, and on Wednesday it opened registrations for everyone above the age of 18 to be given jabs from Saturday. But the country, which is one of the world's biggest producers of vaccines, does not have the stocks for the estimated 600 million people becoming eligible.

Many people who tried to sign up said they failed, complaining on social media that they could not get a slot or they simply could not get online to register as the website repeatedly crashed. 

"Statistics indicate that far from crashing or performing slowly, the system is performing without any glitches," the government said in a statement late on Wednesday.

The government said more than 8 million people had registered for the vaccinations, but it was not immediately clear how many had got slots.

About 9 percent of India's population have received one dose since the vaccination campaign began in January with health workers and then the elderly.

The second wave of infections has overwhelmed hospitals and crematoriums and prompted an increasingly urgent response from allies overseas sending equipment.

"India's COVID[-19] outbreak is a humanitarian crisis," US Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren said on Twitter.

"I'm leading a letter to @moderna_tx, @pfizer, and @jnjnews to find out what steps they're taking to expand global access to their vaccines to save lives and prevent variants from spreading around the world."

Two planes from Russia, carrying 20 oxygen concentrators, 75 ventilators, 150 bedside monitors, and medicines totaling 22 metric tons, arrived in the capital Delhi on Thursday.

India will receive a first batch of Russia's Sputnik V vaccine against COVID-19 on Saturday. 

Delhi is reporting one death from COVID-19 every four minutes.