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Fauci supports national lockdown in India’s Covid catastrophe

Ambulance service employees seal the coffin of a Covid-19 victim before burial at a cemetery in the village of Pali, near Faridabad, in India on May 8.
Ambulance service employees seal the coffin of a Covid-19 victim before burial at a cemetery in the village of Pali, near Faridabad, in India on May 8. Sajjad Hussain/AFP/Getty Images

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is under increasing pressure to impose a nationwide lockdown as the country grapples with the world’s worst Covid-19 outbreak.

The spiraling crisis is stretching India’s health care system beyond breaking point. Beds, oxygen and medical workers are in short supply. Some Covid patients are dying in waiting rooms or outside overwhelmed clinics, before they have even been seen by a doctor.

While more than half of Indian states and union territories have implemented their own shutdowns to deal with the second wave, there are intensifying demands for India to impose a second national lockdown.

Calls for lockdown: On Sunday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and top White House coronavirus adviser, also said he believed India should lock down.

You’ve got to shut down. I believe several of the Indian states have already done that, but you need to break the chain of transmission, and one of the ways to do that is to shut down,” Fauci said on ABC’s “This Week.”

In a separate interview with CNN affiliate CNN News18 on Friday, Fauci added such a lockdown was needed to “get ahead of the trajectory of the outbreak.”

Fungal infection: This comes after the Indian government flagged cases of a fungal infection, known as mucormycosis, among Covid-19 patients during a Friday press briefing.

The infection is generally seen in diabetic patients or those who have a suppressed immune system, and affects “the sinuses or the lungs after inhaling fungal spores from the air,” according to an information page from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“When it pools with the situation with Covid-19, then you must remember there are two other elements that come into picture,” Dr. V.K. Paul, a member of Niti Aayog, an Indian government-run think-tank, said Friday. “One that we are using drugs that suppress the immune system — we are using a class of drugs which is life-saving, steroids,”

“Besides this, when a Covid patient is given oxygen, there is a humidifier which has water in it, and the tendency to get the fungal infection increases,” he added.

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Fauci joins calls for nationwide lockdown to contain India's Covid crisis