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Indian opposition party leader tests positive for COVID-19

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RAHUL Gandhi, an opposition Congress party leader and scion of India’s Nehru-Gandhi family, says he has tested positive for COVID-19 after experiencing mild symptoms

  Gandhi’s disclosure came as the crisis in the wake of the pandemic is deepening in the country, with hospitals buckling under increasing pressure from the second wave of infections.

  In a statement on his official Twitter account on Tuesday, Gandhi said: “After experiencing mild symptoms, I’ve just tested positive for COVID. All those who’ve been in contact with me recently, please follow all safety protocols and stay safe.”

  Earlier in the morning, the Indian Health Ministry said 259,170 infections have been recorded in the past 24 hours, taking the total mark to 15.32 million. The country also saw the highest 1,761 deaths, raising the tally to 180,530.

  Former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, also from the Congress party, tested positive on Monday and was hospitalized.

India is currently battling with the second-worst wave of coronavirus, registering more than 200,000 daily infections since Thursday. The rising cases have resulted in shortages of beds, medical oxygen supplies, and treatment drugs in various parts of the country.

  A vaccination drive is also underway in the country after it was launched on Jan. 16.

  On Tuesday, a day after the government allowed vaccination against COVID-19 for everyone above the age of 18 from May 1, Bharat Biotech, the manufacturer of the country’s indigenous vaccine Covaxin, announced scaling up its manufacturing capacity to 700 million doses annually.

  “Raw materials, packing materials, and single-use consumables for manufacturing have been secured to meet our capacity requirements,” a company spokeswoman said in a statement.

  Other than Covaxin, the Indian government in January had also approved the Covishield vaccine, locally manufactured by Pune-based Serum Institute of India and developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca. This month it also approved Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine for emergency use authorization.

  With cases rising, several cities have announced weekend lockdowns, while the Delhi government on Monday announced a weeklong lockdown to curb the spread of the virus.

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