Steve May 4, 2021

A court in India’s northern Uttar Pradesh state has ruled that the deaths of COVID-19 patients caused by a lack of oxygen are “a criminal act and not less than a genocide”.

The second wave of the pandemic has had a devastating effect on India which has seen oxygen supplies run perilously low and crematoriums operating non-stop.

India’s government is facing growing pressure to impose a nationwide lockdown to stem the devastating coronavirus surge.

Here are the latest updates:

Australian court to examine contentious India travel ban

Australia’s Federal Court says it would urgently hear a challenge – brought by a 73-year-old man living in Bengaluru – to the country’s controversial ban on citizens returning home from coronavirus-hit India.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison this week banned arrivals from India, which is recording hundreds of thousands of new coronavirus infections each day. Under the measures, Australian citizens who return home face jail time and heavy fines.

The move has caused widespread outrage, with Morrison’s own allies describing it as “racist” and an abandonment of vulnerable Australians overseas.

India announces $6.7bn in cheap loans for vaccine, health firms

India’s central bank has released $6.7bn in cheap financing for vaccine makers, hospitals and other health firms to counter the devastating coronavirus surge gripping the country.

Reserve Bank of India governor Shaktikanta Das said cheap loans would be available until March 31 next year, and vowed to deploy “unconventional” measures if the crisis worsens.

“The devastating speed with which the virus affects different regions of the country has to be matched by swift and wide-ranging actions,” he said.

Australia sends coronavirus aid to India

Prime Minister Scott Morrison says Australia has begun delivering humanitarian aid to India promised last week that included personal protective equipment, oxygen concentrations and ventilators.

A chartered Qantas flight has left Sydney carrying medical supplies to India including 1,056 ventilators and 43 oxygen concentrators, the Australian government said in a statement.

A chartered Qantas flight departed Sydney carrying supplies to meet the needs identified by the Govt of India, including 1056 ventilators and 43 oxygen concentrators: Minister for Foreign Affairs, Australia#COVID19

— ANI (@ANI) May 5, 2021

These donated supplies will be distributed by the Indian Red Cross and local authorities to ensure support reaches those in greatest need, the government said.

India posts record daily rise in coronavirus deaths

India’s coronavirus deaths rose by a record 3,780 during the last 24 hours, a day after the country became the world’s second after the United States to cross the grim milestone of 20 million infections.

Daily infections rose by 382,315 on Wednesday, health ministry data showed.

Australia PM stands firm on India flight halt

Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison is resisting mounting pressure to lift a temporary ban on flights from India, saying any early resumption of arrivals from that pandemic hot spot would erode Australia’s quarantine capability.

Morrison said the pause of flights that began last week will continue until May 15 as lawyers plan a legal challenge to the government’s ability to prevent around 9,000 citizens and permanent residents from returning home from India.

Critics of the travel pause include former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson, several Australian lawmakers and leaders of the country’s Indian community.

Deaths due to oxygen shortages ‘no less than genocide’

The Allahabad High Court in Uttar Pradesh state has said that “death of COVID patients just for non-supplying of oxygen to the hospitals is a criminal act and not less than a genocide by those responsible for ensuring the continuous procurement and supply of medical oxygen”.

The court directed the district magistrates of Lucknow and Meerut to verify reports of patients dying due to oxygen shortages within 48 hours.

“We find these news items showing a quite contrary picture to one claimed by the government that there was sufficient supply of oxygen,” the court order said.

Indians in UK respond to COVID-19 crisis back home

Indian nationals living in the United Kingdom have reacted to the worsening COVID-19 crisis in the subcontinent.

Overseas students in London say they are worried about their relatives in India, as British-Asian organisations rally round to raise funds for oxygen concentrators for areas where there is greatest need.



Al Jazeera and news agencies

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