India’s 7-day COVID average hits new high. The WHO warns of pollution

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© Reuters. A city worker sprays disinfectant on the bodies of victims who have died of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at a crematorium in New Delhi, India, May 10, 2021. REUTERS / Adnan Abidi

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BENGALURU (Reuters) – India’s coronavirus crisis showed little sign of easing on Tuesday. A record seven-day average of new cases and international health officials warn that the country’s virus variant is a global concern.

India’s daily coronavirus cases rose 329,942 while deaths from the disease rose 3,876, according to the Ministry of Health. India’s total number of coronavirus infections now stands at 22.99 million while the total number of deaths rose to 249,992.

India leads the world in the daily average number of newly reported deaths, which is one in three worldwide reported deaths per day, according to a Reuters tally.

The seven-day average of new cases is a record high at 390,995.

The World Health Organization said the coronavirus variant first identified in the country last year has been classified as a variant of global concern. Some preliminary studies showed that it spreads more easily.

“We classify this as a variant of the concern on a global level,” said Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO technical director for COVID-19, in Geneva on Monday. “There is some information available that suggests increased portability.”

Nations around the world have sent oxygen cylinders and other medical equipment to aid the crisis in India, but many hospitals across the country are grappling with a shortage of life-saving equipment.

Eleven people died late Monday at a government hospital in Tirupati, a city in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh, due to a delay in the arrival of an oxygenated tanker, a government official said.

“There were problems with oxygen pressure due to low availability. It all happened within five minutes,” said M Harinarayan, the district’s chief bureaucrat, late Monday. The SVR Ruia hospital now had sufficient oxygen.

Sixteen faculty members and a number of retired teachers and staff who lived on the campus of Aligarh Muslim University, one of the most respected in India, have died of coronavirus, the university said.

In addition to stressing medical facilities, the Indian government has advised doctors to look out for signs of mucormycosis or “black fungus” in COVID-19 patients as hospitals report an increase in cases of the rare but potentially fatal infection.

The disease, which can cause blackening or discoloration of the nose, blurred or double vision, chest pain, difficulty breathing, and coughing up blood, is strongly linked to diabetes. And diabetes, in turn, can be made worse by steroids like dexamethasone, which are used to treat severe COVID-19.

Doctors in the country had to warn against using cow dung as they believed it will fight off COVID-19, saying that there is no scientific evidence of its effectiveness and that it poses a risk of spreading other diseases.

In the west Indian state of Gujarat, some devotees have visited cow stalls once a week to cover their bodies with cow dung and urine in hopes that this will strengthen their immunity to the coronavirus or help them recover from it.

“There is no concrete scientific evidence that cow dung or urine boosts immunity to COVID-19. They are based solely on belief,” said Dr. JA Jayalal, National President of the Indian Medical Association.

India’s second wave has increased calls for a statewide lockdown and led a growing number of states to impose tighter restrictions, affecting businesses and the wider economy.

Production of the Apple (NASDAQ 🙂 iPhone 12 at a Foxconn factory in the southern state of Tamil Nadu has declined more than 50% because workers infected with COVID-19 were forced to leave their posts, two sources told Reuters.

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