Rahul Gandhi, the president of the Indian National Congress party and India's main political opposition leader, strongly criticized Prime Minister Narendra Modi, warning in a letter that the "explosive" surge of COVID-19 in the South Asian nation threatens the entire world.
In the Friday letter addressed to Modi, Gandhi, a member of India's parliament, argued that the prime minister's government lacks "a clear and coherent Covid and vaccination strategy," The Indian Express reported, sharing a copy of the document. He wrote that this problem "has placed India in a highly dangerous position." Gandhi called for a national lockdown, acceleration of the country's vaccination strategy and for better "scientific" tracking of the coronavirus.
India COVID-19 Crisis In Photos
Click to expand
"India is home to one out of every six human beings on the planet. The pandemic has demonstrated that our size, genetic diversity and complexity make India fertile ground for the virus to rapidly mutate, transforming itself into a more contagious and more dangerous form," Gandhi, the son of India's former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and grandson of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, wrote in the letter.
The politician took aim at what he views as Modi's government's "hubris in declaring premature victory as the virus was exponentially spreading." He said this had "placed India in a highly dangerous position," noting that COVID-19 is now "growing explosively" in the country.
"I am aware that you are concerned about the economic impact of a lockdown. Inside and outside India, the human cost of allowing this virus to continue its march unimpeded will result in many more tragic consequences for our people than any purely economic calculations your advisers are suggesting," Gandhi wrote.
Newsweek reached out to Modi's office for comment but did not immediately receive a response.
India, home to the world's second largest population of about 1.37 billion people, has seen a record-breaking surge in COVID-19 infections over the past month. On Wednesday and Thursday, the nation recorded well over 400,000 new infections while analysts have said they believe this is likely an undercount due to a lack of access to testing. The country also recorded nearly 4,000 new deaths on both days.
Images of large numbers of bodies being cremated—as is the normal custom in India—have been circulated widely online and in the media, as some medical workers have compared the situation to the "apocalypse."
"What we are seeing is nothing short of an apocalypse," Dr. Farah Husain, head of a COVID-19 ICU unit at Lok Nayak Hospital in New Delhi, told CNN last Friday. "We've had patients rushed—being rushed in. Almost wards getting filled up overnight..."
The seven-day average of new daily COVID-19 infections has risen to nearly 390,000, while the country is seeing an average of nearly 3,700 deaths per day. India is now second in the world for its official number of COVID-19 infections, with about 21.5 million total infections recorded since the start of the pandemic. That's still significantly behind the much smaller U.S. (with a population of about 328 million), which has recorded more than 32.6 million infections.
India currently has recorded the third-highest number of deaths of any country, with just over 234,000 officially attributed to COVID-19 since the beginning of the outbreak, according to The New York Times' tracker. Comparatively, the U.S. has seen nearly 580,000 deaths while Brazil comes in second with nearly 417,000. But health experts are deeply concerned about the virus's current trajectory in India, as daily infections continue to surge.
Meanwhile, Modi has faced significant backlash. Earlier this year, the Indian prime minister held large and crowded rallies, as he suggested that the country had beaten back the pandemic. His government also allowed a large Hindu religious festival to move forward. Public health experts have pointed to these events as well as the government's more recent lax response to the pandemic as key drivers of the current surge in infections and deaths.
Start your unlimited Newsweek trial
Click here to read the full article.
Chance the Rapper has wrapped up a deal with AMC Theatres to have a new concert film, “Magnificent Coloring World,” premiere exclusively on the chain’s screens this summer.
A teaser was issued Friday for the movie, which celebrates five years since the release of Chance’s landmark mixtape “Coloring Book” and the Magnificent Coloring World tour that followed.
Directed by Jake Schreier and produced by Chance’s House of Kicks and Park Pictures, “Magnificent Coloring World” marks the first time an individual recording artist has distributed a film through AMC.
Thursday, the rapper teased his partnership with AMC on Twitter with an image of his signature “3” logo adorned with marquee lights.
In 2017, Chance made history with “Coloring Book” in becoming the first independent artist to win a Grammy for a mixtape after successfully leading a petition to convince the Recording Academy to recognize streaming-only albums. In addition to winning best rap album, Chance also took home the awards for best new artist and best rap performance.
Last year, Chance went No. 1 with his Justin Bieber collaboration “Holy” and released his virtual holiday concert film “Chi-Town Christmas” on YouTube and in 3D on Oculus.
Movie theaters are slowly reopening across the country, with most of California (including Los Angeles County) allowing cinemas to operate with at least half-capacity. In New York City, movie theaters are open at 33% capacity.
While this week AMC Theatres reported a net loss of $567 million, that number is still substantially lower than 2020’s lost revenues. Yesterday, AMC CEO Adam Aron said, “We finally can now say that we are looking at an increasingly favorable environment for moviegoing and for AMC as a company over the coming few months.”
Disney has announced its plans for this Halloween, with Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party being replaced by the new Boo Bash at Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Boo Bash will run certain nights from Aug. 10 until Oct. 31, from 9 p.m. until midnight, Disney said Friday.
The three-hour ticketed event will take place after the park close and include special themed music, decorations, food offerings and entertainment. Attractions and rides will be open for the after-hours event, with adults and kids permitted to wear costumes for the Halloween party.
Read more: Disneyland is now open: How to get tickets and how much they cost
Trick-or-treating should be making a return, with Disney saying guests will "get their fill of Halloween candy," while character cavalcades will be featured throughout the park as parades continue to be pushed back due to social distancing requirements around the pandemic. The annual Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party was canceled in 2020 at Magic Kingdom due to COVID-19, and with the theme parks still subject to public health restrictions, Boo Bash appears to be a safer way of celebrating.
As Disney celebrates the halfway point to Halloween this year, it's also unveiled new merchandise including Cruella-themed toys, Haunted Mansion accessories and Disney Villain clothing. Disney will also be hosting a halfway to Halloween live TikTok event on May 8.
Entertain your brain with the coolest news from streaming to superheroes, memes to video games.