Police in India’s Gujarat state are investigating a crowded religious procession, Wednesday, May 5, that defied social distancing restrictions amid an unprecedented coronavirus surge in the country.
Hundreds of women participated in the ritual offering of water at the request of a local priest, who claims the virus is happening because the gods are angry.
READ MORE: A senior Indian government scientific adviser warned Wednesday that a third wave of coronavirus infections would sweep the country as it struggles with the devastating effects of the current wave that officially claimed nearly 4,000 lives in the course of one day.
The government’s principal scientific adviser, K. Vijay Raghavan, issued the warning as the World Health Organization said in its weekly report that India accounted for almost half the cases reported globally last week and about a quarter of all fatalities.
“Phase 3 is inevitable, given the high levels of circulating virus,” Raghavan told a news briefing in New Delhi. “But it is not clear on what timescale this phase 3 will occur … We should prepare for new waves.”
India’s crisis is aggravated by a critical lack of oxygen needed to treat critically ill patients, along with the raw materials needed to manufacture doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. While India is home to the Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, only 2% of the country’s 1.3 billion people have been vaccinated, according to local reports. COVID-19 is the disease caused by the coronavirus.