India eyes train carriages for virus beds

India’s home minister has offered 500 railway carriages for use as makeshift coronavirus hospital wards as the capital New Delhi struggles to contain a spike in cases.

Amit Shah, India’s second-most powerful politician behind Prime Minister Narendra Modi, was set to convene a meeting on Monday with all major political parties represented on the deteriorating situation in the capital.

Delhi has about 9000 beds dedicated to COVID-19 patients among public and private hospitals, but a state government panel of experts has said Delhi will need at least 15,000 beds by the end of June.

The health ministry reported a jump of more than 11,000 new infections nationwide for a third-consecutive day, taking the total caseload to more than 332,000, including 9520 deaths.

India is the fourth hardest-hit country by the pandemic in the world after the US, Russia and Brazil.

In Pakistan, the number of infected people neared 145,000 on Monday as leaders warned coronavirus could sweep through the population.

They say the number of infections might double by the end of June and is likely to hit 1.2 million by July 31 if Pakistan’s 220 million people continue to flout basic precautions like wearing a mask.

Planning and Development Minister Asad Umer, who also heads the government’s COVID-19 command centre, warns the virus will rampage through Pakistan unless there is “a change in our attitude toward the virus”, which ends the relentless refusal of most in Pakistan to social distance and wear masks in public.

However, he defended Pakistan’s easing of lockdown restrictions, saying the country’s economy would collapse under the burden of a total shutdown. Pakistan has stepped back on some easing of restrictions, closing markets on the weekend and extending closures of large wedding halls, restaurants, gyms and large gatherings.

Pakistan’s doctors have pleaded for stricter lockdowns saying the struggling health care system is already straining under the escalating numbers of infections.

Pakistan has recorded 2729 deaths since mid March.

Indonesia has reported 1017 new infections and 64 more deaths, the highest COVID-19 toll in a single day in the nation to date.

Health ministry official Achmad Yurianto said on Monday the total number of cases in Indonesia had reached 39,294, while deaths had increased to 2198.

The number of people who have recovered from coronavirus stands at 15,123.

In the Philippines, the health ministry on Monday confirmed 10 more coronavirus deaths and 490 additional infections.

In a bulletin, the ministry said total deaths had increased to 1098 while confirmed cases had reached 26,420.

President Rodrigo Duterte was set to decide later on Monday if quarantine measures in the capital should be relaxed or extended.

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