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India turns to ex-army medics as COVID surges

India is to recruit hundreds of former army medics to support its overwhelmed healthcare system, the defense ministry said on Sunday (May 9).

The country is grappling with record COVID-19 infections and fatalities.

Deaths rose by more than 4,000 for a second consecutive day on Sunday.

That's prompted angry calls for a complete nationwide lockdown.

Some 400 medical officers are expected to serve on contract for a maximum of 11 months, the ministry said, adding that other defense doctors had also been roped in for online consultations.

On Sunday India reported 4,092 deaths over the previous 24 hours. That's after its highest ever single day death toll, 4,187, the day before.

With an acute shortage of oxygen and beds in many hospitals, and with morgues and crematoriums overflowing, experts say the actual numbers of fatalities and cases could be much higher than reported.

Pressure is mounting on Prime Minister Narendra Modi to announce a nationwide lockdown.

He's been criticized for allowing huge gatherings at a religious festival and holding large election rallies over the past two months - even as COVID-19 cases were surging.

Many Indian states have imposed their own strict lockdowns.

On Sunday New Delhi's chief minister said a lockdown there would be extended by a week and subway train services would also be suspended.

For some residents in the capital that's a cause for concern.

Hospital worker Rahul says he's heading for his evening shift, but doesn't know how he will get home and does not have enough money to travel in taxis.

The Indian Medical Association has called for a "complete, well-planned, pre-announced" lockdown instead of "sporadic" night curfews and restrictions.

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