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Coronavirus

India’s New Delhi extends lockdown as COVID-19 cases spike rapidly

Published: Updated:

India’s capital New Delhi will extend its week-long lockdown, officials said Sunday, as the country’s Covid-19 crisis grows with infections and deaths hitting new record highs.

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“We have decided to extend the lockdown by one week... The havoc of corona(virus) continues and there is no respite. Everyone is in favor of extending the lockdown,” Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said in a video statement.

The northern megacity – home to 20 million people and the worst-hit in India – had imposed a weeklong lockdown on Monday as hospitals beds and oxygen supplies ran out.

“We have decided to extend the lockdown by one week,” Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said in a video statement.

“The havoc of corona(virus) continues and there is no respite. Everyone is in favor of extending the lockdown.”

The announcement came as the healthcare system struggled to cope with the huge spike in cases, with reports of overwhelmed hospitals, severe oxygen and medicine shortages, and patients’ families pleading for help on social media.

There has been growing criticism of the government over allegations that it was caught underprepared ahead of the surge.

On Sunday, Twitter confirmed it had withheld dozens of tweets critical of the unfolding crisis at the request of the Indian government.

The social media giant said the tweets were blocked in India after a legal demand from New Delhi, months after similar action was taken against comments critical of the government’s new agriculture laws that had sparked violent protests.

Some tweets involve remarks, including from regional opposition lawmakers, about the overwhelmed healthcare system, which has seen patients die from oxygen shortages.

“When we receive a valid legal request, we review it under both the Twitter Rules and local law,” Twitter said in a statement.

“If the content violates Twitter’s rules, the content will be removed from the service. If it is determined to be illegal in a particular jurisdiction, but not in violation of the Twitter rules, we may withhold access to the content in India only.”

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday urged all citizens to take COVID-19 vaccines and exercise caution, saying a “storm” of infections had shaken the country.

India has reported more than 300,000 new cases each day for the past four days, more than anywhere else in the world since the pandemic began, piling pressure on the public health system.

“Our spirits were high after successfully dealing with the first wave,” Modi said in a radio address. “But this storm has shaken the nation.”

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