MANILA — Close to 75 Filipinos have caught COVID-19 in India, which is fighting a surge in coronavirus infections, Manila's envoy to New Delhi said on Monday.
"So far, we have received about 73 cases na COVID-positive na Pilipino dito," Philippine Ambassador to India Ramon Bagatsing Jr. said in a press conference.
(We have received about 73 cases of COVID-positive Filipinos here.)
India hosts about 2,000 Filipinos, about 80 percent of whom are housewives, while "less than 70" are workers "in the managerial level," Bagatsing earlier said.
Last week, he said 2 Filipinos in India succumbed to COVID-19.
The Philippine embassy "provides as much support as we can" to COVID-stricken Filipinos, said Bagatsing.
India on Monday reported more than 300,000 new coronavirus cases for a 12th straight day, taking its overall caseload to just shy of 20 million, while deaths from COVID-19 rose by 3,417.
But medical experts say real numbers across the country of 1.35 billion may be five to 10 times higher than the official tally.
Hospitals have filled to capacity, medical oxygen supplies have run short and morgues and crematoriums have been swamped as the country deals with the surge in cases.
At least 11 states and union territories have imposed some form of restrictions to try and stem infections, but Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government is reluctant to impose a national lockdown, concerned about the economic impact.
The spike in infections is India’s biggest crisis since Modi took office in 2014. Modi has been criticized for not taking steps earlier to curb the spread and for letting millions of largely unmasked people attend religious festivals and crowded political rallies in five states during March and April.
Despite being the world's biggest producer of vaccines, India does not have enough for itself - undermining a plan to ramp up and widen inoculation from Saturday. Only about 9 percent of its 1.4 billion people have had a dose.
The Indian COVID-19 variant has now reached at least 17 countries including Britain, Switzerland and Iran, leading several governments to close their borders to people traveling from India.
– With reports from Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News; Reuters
Video courtesy of PTV