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India's staggering COVID crisis could have been avoided. But the government dropped its guard too soon

India's staggering COVID crisis could have been avoided. But the government dropped its guard too soon

India's staggering COVID crisis could have been avoided. But the government dropped its guard too soon

India's staggering COVID crisis could have been avoided. But the government dropped its guard too soon

India's staggering COVID crisis could have been avoided. But the government dropped its guard too soon

India's staggering COVID crisis could have been avoided. But the government dropped its guard too soon

India's staggering COVID crisis could have been avoided. But the government dropped its guard too soon

India's staggering COVID crisis could have been avoided. But the government dropped its guard too soon

India reported 314,000 new cases of COVID-19 on April 22
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Pradeep Taneja, The University of Melbourne and Azad Singh Bali, Australian National University

India reported 314,000 new cases of COVID-19 on April 22, the highest-ever infection tally recorded by any country on a single day.

Many hospitals across the country are unable to cope with the unprecedented demand for life-saving necessities. Family members are scrambling to buy oxygen cylinders and medication for their loved ones in hospitals, often paying exorbitant prices in the black market.

Around the world, several countries such as the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Pakistan, have imposed new restrictions on travellers from India, including flight bans.

While many countries around the world have faced multiple waves of infections, what has led to this massive — and sudden — spike in India?

Complacency is certainly to blame. But so, too, is the government’s feckless handling of the crisis, particularly Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ineffective leadership in recent weeks.

Perhaps nothing illustrates this more clearly than Modi’s televised address this week in response to the growing crisis, when he sought to use his personal appeal to encourage Indians to practice COVID-safe behaviour.

He offered little in the form of concrete measures to contain the surge in infections, and counselled the state governments against using lockdowns. Unlike Modi’s public addresses during last year’s first wave, there was little that appeared to resonate across society.

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