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India sets another daily record of 346,000 cases

SRINAGAR, India — For the third day in a row, India set a global daily record with 346,786 coronavirus cases.

That increased India’s total to more than 16 million cases, behind only the United States. The Health Ministry reported another 2,624 deaths in the past 24 hours, pushing India’s confirmed death toll to 189,544.

Hospitals in New Delhi and some of the worst-hit states have reported critical shortages of beds and oxygen supplies on Saturday. Families are waiting for days to cremate their loved ones at overburdened crematoriums, with many turning to makeshift facilities for last rites.

Health experts and critics say a downward trend in infections late last year lulled authorities into complacency, and they failed to plug the holes in the ailing health care system that had become evident during the first wave. They also blame politicians and government authorities for allowing super-spreader events, including religious festivals and election rallies, to take place as recently as this month.

“It’s not the virus variants and mutations which are a key cause of the current rise in infections,” Dr. Anant Bhan, a bioethics and global health expert, tweeted this week. “It’s the variants of ineptitude and abdication of public health thinking by our decision makers.”