Govt says Oz article on ‘virus apocalypse’ malicious, asks paper to publish rejoinder

The article describes how India landed in a COVID ‘crisis of epic proportions’ due to ‘arrogance, hyper-nationalism and bureaucratic incompetence’

The health infrastructure of the country is crumbling as the demand for oxygen supply and hospital beds has increased multifold. PTI File Photo

The Indian High Commission in Australia has severely criticized a report published in The Australian titled ‘Modi leads India out of lockdown…and into a viral apocalypse’ and wants its editor to publish a corrigendum.

The High Commission said the article was “baseless, malicious and slanderous.”

The article describes how India landed in a COVID “crisis of epic proportions” due to “arrogance, hyper-nationalism and bureaucratic incompetence.”

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The newspaper was also urged to refrain from publishing such “baseless” articles in future.

Also read: Delhi 5-star hotel converted to COVID care centre for HC judges, officials

In a note to the newspaper, the Indian High Commission says the article (available online behind a paywall) has “strangely rushed to blame” the surge on the “restricted election campaign by the Prime Minister and one religious gathering”. The note is signed by Indian deputy high commissioner P S Karthigeyan.

The article also refers to “hubris… nationalist politics… slow vaccine roll-out, an ill-equipped health system… and promotion of the economy over containment”.

The High Commission in its note to Christopher Dore, editor-in-chief, accused him of publishing a report “written with the sole objective of undermining the universally acclaimed approach taken by the government of India to fight the pandemic”.

It referred to “a number of measures” taken by the government to combat the pandemic, starting from the lockdown in March last year to the vaccination drive.

“… massive upgradation in diagnostics and treatment facilities undertaken in record time have saved hundreds of millions and have been praised by the global community…” the note said.

Also read: Pressure mounts on US to release AstraZeneca stockpiles to India, Brazil

The note referred to the Centre’s ‘vaccine diplomacy’ and export of protective equipment, and claimed it had “probably saved hundreds of millions more around the world”.

India recorded more than 3.23 lakh fresh COVID-19 cases in 24 hours, taking the total tally to 1,76,36,307. Of these, 28,82,204 are active cases. On Monday (April 26) morning, more than 2,800 deaths were reported in the previous 24 hours.

While Maharashtra reported 48,700 cases, Uttar Pradesh’s figure stood at 33,351.

Amid desperate cries for help on social media, the government has said there is no need for panic. Prime Minister Modi, facing criticism for failing to anticipate the deadly second wave, addressed the nation on Sunday (April 25), saying the wave was “testing our capacity to bear pain”.

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