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India records over 4,000 coronavirus deaths in a day for first time

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People watch burning funeral pyres of their relatives who died of COVID-19 in a ground that has been converted into a crematorium in New Delhi, India, Thursday, May 6, 2021.
People watch burning funeral pyres of their relatives who died of COVID-19 in a ground that has been converted into a crematorium in New Delhi, India, Thursday, May 6, 2021.   -   Copyright  Ishant Chauhan/AP
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India reported on Saturday a record high 4,187 coronavirus deaths and 401,078 confirmed cases, according to official figures.

The new data comes as pressure mounts on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government to implement a nationwide shutdown.

Overall, India has more than 21.8 million confirmed infections and nearly 240,000 deaths. Experts say even those dramatic tolls are undercounted.

Infections have swelled in India since February in a disastrous turn blamed on more contagious variants as well as government decisions to allow massive crowds to gather for religious festivals and political rallies

Southern states lockdown

Meanwhile, two southern states in India became the latest to declare lockdowns.

At over 300,000, Karnataka's capital of Bengaluru has the highest active caseload of any Indian city.

But experts warn the worst is still ahead as India's third-largest city buckles under oxygen shortages, overrun hospitals and crowded crematoriums.

In Tamil Nadu state, the lockdown announcement followed a daily record of more than 26,000 cases on Friday.

One doctor in Bengaluru said he's had to reject patients “left, right and centre” as his hospital struggled to find more oxygen.

The state’s oxygen shortages prompted the high court on Wednesday to order the federal government to increase the daily liquid medical oxygen supplied to Karnataka.

The ruling came after 24 COVID-19 patients died in a government hospital on Monday. It's unclear how many of them died due to the lack of oxygen, but an investigation is ongoing.

Much of the focus in recent weeks has been on northern India, led by New Delhi, where television stations have broadcast images of patients lying on stretchers outside hospitals and of mass funeral pyres that burn throughout the night.