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India’s COVID-19 infections surge by 234,692, over 1,341 deaths reported

India’s COVID-19 infections surge by 234,692, over 1,341 deaths reported
April 17, 2021

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India reported 234,692 COVID-19 infections over the last 24 hours, taking the total number of cases to nearly 14.5 million, second only to the United States.

Deaths in the country from COVID-19 rose by 1,341 to 175,649.

Criticism has mounted over the Indian government’s handling of the health crisis, as religious festivals and election rallies continue amid increasing reports of shortage of hospital beds, oxygen cylinders and vaccination doses.

After hundreds of thousands of ascetics and devout Hindus gathered for several days along the banks of the Ganges in a northern state for a religious festival Kumbh Mela, Modi on Saturday called for restraint, saying on Twitter the festival should now be kept "symbolic".

Experts have warned about the spread of more contagious variants of the disease, with especially during large-scale gathering for religious festivals and political rallies.

After imposing one of the world’s strictest lockdowns for nearly three months last year, India’s government relaxed almost all curbs by the beginning of 2021, although many regions have now introduced localised restrictions.