India has set a new global record for a rise in daily coronavirus cases for a fifth straight day, while deaths from Covid-19 also jumped by an all-time high over the last 24 hours on Monday.
Several nations, including the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany, have offered support as India's under-funded healthcare system struggles to cope with the increasing demand for medical oxygen and hospital beds.
In the meantime, Indian Ministry of Home Affairs asked the States to impose localised restrictions and implement strict containment measures for at least 14-days to flatten the Covid-19 curve.
In a letter to States on Monday, Union Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla said that considering the "unprecedented surge," there is an urgent need for States and Union Territories (UTs) to consider strict Covid management and control measures to bring the situation under control.
The guidelines stated that where there are clusters of cases, quarantining individuals or families will not help.
The Ministry of Home Affairs suggested that the states or UTs should take a call on creating a large containment zone based on proper analysis of the situation.
As of 8am Monday, more than 141 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine have been administered in India. The vaccination drive is also set to enter its next phase from 1 May to include all people above the age of 18 years, said a Hindustan Times report.
Meantime, quoting two government officials, Reuters reported that India's government will not import Covid-19 vaccines itself but expects states and companies to do so.
The officials said Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government would instead aim to support domestic vaccine makers by guaranteeing purchases from them. The government this month paid Indian vaccine makers in advance, for the first time, for supply of doses.
The government also asked the Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech to lower the prices of their vaccines against the coronavirus disease ahead of the third phase of the nationwide vaccination drive from 1 May, news agency PTI reported citing sources.
Monday's request by the Indian government came after a row erupted over the vaccine prices ahead of the third phase of the vaccination drive from 1 May, when all adults will be eligible for the jabs.
In another development Monday, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Yoshihide Suga discussed the Covid-19 situation in each other's country over the phone.
EC responsible for Covid second wave: Madras HC
The Election Commission is singularly responsible for the second wave of Covid and should probably be booked for murder, the Madras High Court observed on Monday in the sharpest criticism yet of crowded campaigns for the five state polls that continued in the middle of raging virus cases.
The court has threatened to stop the counting of votes on Sunday if a "blueprint" is not in place, reports the NDTV.
The Election Commission will react after it sees the order, sources say.
"Your institution is singularly responsible for the second wave of Covid-19. Your officers should be booked on murder charges probably," the Madras High Court told the Election Commission.
Retired military medics recalled in virus battle
India will recall all medical personnel who retired from the armed forces in the last two years to work in Covid facilities near their homes, the country's Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat told Prime Minister Narendra Modi Monday.
Briefing the Indian PM about the preparations made by the armed forces to help in the country's fight against the pandemic, General Rawat said oxygen cylinders available with the military will be diverted to the hospitals that desperately need the live-saving gas amid the rapid second wave of Covid infections, reports the NDTV.
India seeks remdesivir, oxygen from EU
India has asked the European Union to send medical oxygen and Gilead's antiviral drug remdesivir to fight a surge in Covid-19 cases, an EU official said on Monday, adding that the aid could be made available soon.
"The Indians have asked for medical oxygen and antivirals, notably remdesivir," a spokesman for the EU Commission told a news conference.
The EU signed a contract in October with Gilead which allowed its 27 member states and 10 partner countries including Britain to order up to 500,000 remdesivir courses over six months.
However, it is unclear how many doses have actually been bought by EU states after a trial conducted by the World Health Organization suggested remdesivir had little or no effect on mortality or length of hospital stays among patients with the respiratory disease.
The EU spokesman added that so far, among EU states, Ireland has offered to send oxygen, which is crucial for patients with breathing problems, while Germany and France have also indicated they will help.
"We can expect that in the next hours and days we can confirm more help," the spokesman added.
Doctors sound warning over oxygen hoarding
As hospitals in Delhi and many other cities run out of beds, people have been forced to find ways to get treatment for sick patients at home.
Many have turned to the black market, where prices of essential medicines, oxygen cylinders and concentrators have skyrocketed and questionable drugs are now proliferating.
In many major Indian cities, families are desperately cobbling together makeshift arrangements at home.
But most of India's population cannot afford to do this. There are already several reports of people dying at the doorsteps of hospitals because they couldn't afford to buy essential drugs and oxygen on the black market.
As people are hoarding oxygen and vital medicines in homes, senior doctors said this could create panic and cause shortages in hospitals treating critically ill Covid patients.
India's death rate still low
Though India is passing a hard time with the rising infection and fatalities, the death rate is still too low compared to the European countries.
With 197 deaths among 1 lakh people, Italy still tops the mortality rate followed by the UK, Brazil, US, Spain, Mexico and France.
India so far recorded 14 deaths per 1 lakh people. The country's death rate is only 1.1% -- which means the country is losing only 1 Covid-19 infected among 100 positive cases.
For neighbouring Bangladesh, the number of deaths among 1 lakh people is just 7, while the mortality rate stands at 1.5%.