Covid deaths devastate India
Each day, India reports more than 300,000 new infections, a world record that accounts for nearly half of all new cases in a global surge, and more than 2,000 deaths. But experts say those numbers represent just a fraction of the true human toll from the virus in the country.
A sluggish vaccination campaign and an insidious new variant discovered in India may be behind the spread, which has kept cremation grounds burning nonstop and drained hospitals of oxygen resources.
“Have you seen a fish out of water?” one man said on Saturday outside a hospital in New Delhi after 20 Covid patients died after an oxygen shortage. “It’s unimaginable. Just like a fish out of water.”
Background: Many officials and ordinary citizens stopped taking precautions after India initially avoided the frightening death tolls that sent other big countries into crisis mode, perhaps because its population is young. “People here thought it was over,” Jeffrey Gettleman, The Times’s South Asia bureau chief, told our colleagues at the Coronavirus Briefing.
Suppression: The government on Sunday said it ordered Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to take down dozens of social media posts critical of the country’s handling of the pandemic.
Shockwaves: Less than 10 percent of Indians have received one dose of a vaccine, even though country is the world’s leading vaccine manufacturer. Now, the country has opted to restrict exports of vaccine doses, which could stall or even stop Africa’s already slow vaccination campaign.
In other developments:
Three months before the Olympics, Japan declared a state of emergency in Tokyo and Osaka as cases there rise.
The U.S. lifted its pause on the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine, a one-shot dose essential to the global inoculation effort.
The blaze broke out at a hospital dedicated to Covid-19 patients in one of the city’s poorer neighborhoods, which officials said did not have smoke detectors, a sprinkler system or fire hoses, a devastating example of the pandemic’s effects on a country riddled with corruption and decrepit infrastructure.
Troubling trend: A European Commission report from early this year warned of the dangers of potential fires in hospitals because of increased oxygen use during the pandemic. Last year, almost 70 people were killed in hospital fires around the world related to supplemental oxygen.
No survivors in Indonesia
International search teams have found debris from a navy submarine carrying 53 people that sank near Bali last week. Indonesian military officials said that were no survivors.
On Sunday, Indonesian officials confirmed that the submarine, which had been engaged in torpedo drills, had broken into three pieces at 838 meters deep. The 44-year-old ship was built to withstand the pressure of depths up to only 500 meters and could accommodate 34 crew members.
Consequences: An Indonesian military and intelligence analyst said the ship was “forced” to redeploy after an unsuccessful first torpedo drill, raising questions about whether the submarine had enough time for maintenance.
Lives lost: Sgt. Guntur Ari Prasetyo always asked his wife to pray for him before he was deployed. “Maybe he had a hunch before he departed,” she said. “He looked different this time.”
THE LATEST NEWS
News from Asia
Southeast Asian leaders met on Saturday to call for an end to the army-led killing of protesters in Myanmar, but critics say the presence of the general who led the coup at the talks gives his rule the appearance of legitimacy.
The businessman Sun Dawu, a thorn in the side of China’s ruling Communist Party, was formally arrested after months of detention amid efforts by the country’s leader, Xi Jinping, to bring China’s private sector to heel.
The U.S. military began its complete withdrawal from Afghanistan on Sunday.
During a surge of online attacks against Chinese feminists, popular social media companies have removed the accounts of the women — not the trolls — from their platforms.
What Else Is Happening
President Biden recognized the mass killings of Armenians in the early 1900s as genocide, signaling his willingness to test an increasingly frayed relationship with Turkey.
A Tunisian man fatally stabbed a French police officer near Paris on Friday as the country’s extreme right pushes an anti-immigrant campaign.
The United Nations is expected to soon declare that reducing emissions of methane, the main component of natural gas, is far more important than previously thought in combating climate change.
Few people irk the Kremlin more than Emilian Gebrev, a Bulgarian arms merchant whose stocks appear to be the target of a series of explosions in 2014 at Czech weapons depots.
Gay people are leaving Poland, which an international gay rights organization ranked as the European Union’s most homophobic country in 2020.
A spacecraft built by SpaceX, Elon Musk’s space exploration company, arrived at the International Space Station on Saturday.
A Morning Read
Lizards lumber across empty tarmacs and the sign for Hooters is missing its “H” in Phuket, one of Thailand’s top tourist havens. Months of pandemic lockdowns and border vigilance kept the coronavirus, as well as tourists, at bay. But just as the national government was poised to relax restrictions on foreign visitors, cases began to spike nationwide — partly the result of well-heeled residents vacationing and celebrating the Thai new year. Now its reopening to the world is delayed. “We can wait a little longer for Phuket to get better,” one resident told my colleague Hannah Beech. “But not much more.”
ARTS AND IDEAS
It’s Oscars time
After an awards season of largely virtual events, the Academy Awards are returning, with a red carpet and an in-person ceremony, beginning at 8 p.m. Eastern. (That’s 8 a.m. Monday in Hong Kong.) Here’s how to watch and what to watch for:
More diversity. The Oscar nominations this year are the most diverse ever, with 70 women nominated across 23 categories, and nearly half of the acting nominations going to people of color.
A historic best director? The Beijing-born Chloé Zhao — the front-runner, who directed “Nomadland” — would be the first woman of color to win. (She’d also be the second woman ever, after Kathryn Bigelow won for “The Hurt Locker” in 2010.)
A posthumous honor? Chadwick Boseman, who died last year, is up for best actor for his performance in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” In a Times prediction roundup, Kyle Buchanan writes: “It’s hard to imagine voters won’t seize their only opportunity to give one to Boseman for a flashy role that showcased the late actor’s immense range.”
PLAY, WATCH, EAT
What to Cook
That’s it for today’s briefing. See you next time. — Amelia
P.S. Jane Perlez, who covered China for The Times from 2012 to 2019, shared insights from her time in Beijing in our Australia newsletter.
The latest episode of “The Daily” is on how the Super League fell apart.
Carole Landry wrote today’s Arts and Ideas. You can reach Amelia and the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.