Indian Premier League Suspends Cricket Matches

India on Tuesday passed the milestone of 20 million total reported coronavirus cases, with many more undetected, according to experts, amid growing calls for a national lockdown.

With those reported numbers, India became the second country after the United States to cross 20 million infections. Although aid has begun to pour in from other countries, hospitals are still unable to help many of those who are critically ill, and families have been left to hunt for much-needed oxygen.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been sharply criticized by many for underplaying the virus earlier this year, and on Tuesday the opposition leader Rahul Gandhi said a national lockdown was desperately needed, calling it “the only option.”

Mr. Gandhi accused the authorities of helping the virus spread. “A crime has been committed against India,” he wrote on Twitter.

intense criticism for going ahead with their matches in cities that have been among the worst hit.

Made up of eight teams, the Indian Premier League is the biggest cricket league in the world.

Since the league’s season started last month, some of the biggest cricket stars have traveled across the country in so-called bubbles and played in empty stadiums. But even the stringent safety protocols couldn’t stop team members from being infected. At least five people on three teams have tested positive. The competition was scheduled to finish at the end of the month.

“These are difficult times, especially in India and while we have tried to bring in some positivity and cheer, however, it is imperative that the tournament is now suspended and everyone goes back to their families and loved ones in these trying times,” the league said in a statement.

India reported over 368,000 new cases and 3,417 deaths on Monday. It has reported more than 222,000 Covid-19 deaths, although actual figures are most likely much higher.

With aid being shipped from countries like the United States and Britain, among others, there was hope among weary residents that the situation could start easing.

The Times of India. Italy has also donated an oxygen generation plant and 20 ventilators.

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My Crash Course in Covering a U.F.C. Fight

I read up on the basics, like the prohibitions on biting, head-butting and hair-pulling. Which makes for one advantage in doing a crash course on a sport like M.M.A. versus, say, cricket: There are fewer rules. Finally, I understood the origin of the phrase “no holds barred.”

The night before the fight, I texted my father-in-law, Gary, who lives in Pittsburgh and is a big U.F.C. fan, asking for tips.

“Don’t blink,” he said. “It’s fast paced and anything can happen in an instant, including lack of consciousness.”

I texted back a sweating emoji.

On Sunday morning in Taiwan, I woke up, showered and poured myself some coffee before settling on the couch with my laptop in front of the TV, ready to take in several hours of raw, unbridled combat.

Then the fights began. Watching the live action, I quickly realized that no amount of work beforehand could have prepared me for the gruesomeness of the sport. In the first bout, I saw one fighter, Jimmy Crute, go down in the opening round after Anthony Smith delivered a hard kick to the back of his knee. In the second fight, I watched Chris Weidman shatter his leg just by kicking Uriah Hall’s knee at the start of the bout.

Turns out my father-in-law was right.

There were also some uplifting moments. Like Hall’s gracious interview after Weidman was taken out of the octagon on a stretcher. And the Kyrgyzstani fighter Valentina Shevchenko’s endearing but lost-in-translation exchange with Joe Rogan, one of the announcers, about rising to the challenge.

And then there was Namajunas, who defied the bettors by knocking out Zhang with a powerful kick to the head in the first round. Tears streamed down the former champion’s face as the title belt was wrapped around her waist once again.

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Social Media as ‘Godsend’: In India, Cries for Help Get Results

NEW DELHI — Rajni Gill woke up with a slight fever in mid-April, the first warning that she had Covid-19. Within a few days, she was breathless and nearly unconscious in a hospital.

Desperate to arrange plasma treatment for Ms. Gill, a gynecologist in the city of Noida, her family called doctors, friends, anyone they thought could help. Then her sister posted a plea on Facebook: “I am looking for a plasma donor for my sister who is hospitalized in Noida. She is B positive and is 43.”

The message, quickly amplified on Twitter, flashed across the phone of Srinivas B.V., an opposition politician in nearby Delhi, who was just then securing plasma for a college student. He deputized a volunteer donor to rush to the blood bank for Ms. Gill.

“The administration and systems have collapsed,” Mr. Srinivas said. “I have never seen so many people dying at the same time.”

tuk-tuk drivers, who have mobilized online to help the sick, some of them hundreds of miles away. Collectively, they have formed grass-roots networks that are stepping in where state and national governments have failed.

It is a role that Mr. Srinivas, 38, has played before in times of crisis.

As the president of the opposition Indian National Congress party’s youth league, he has provided support after natural disasters, including earthquakes and floods. He has worked to get textbooks to underprivileged children and medicine to people who couldn’t afford it.

India locked down, Mr. Srinivas galvanized young volunteers across the country who distributed food for stranded migrants, along with more than 10 million masks. He now heads a team of 1,000 people, including 100 in Delhi, the center of the current outbreak.

84-second video explaining his techniques so that others can use them.

got a lot of attention, given the intense criticism of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s handling of the pandemic. (The commission said its appeal had been “misinterpreted, for which we are sorry.”)

Mr. Srinivas’s volunteers use direct messaging to collect data on people needing help, then classify them by risk profile. They work with people on the ground to arrange hospital beds and plasma donations for the most serious cases. Others are put in touch with doctors who can provide remote consultations.

Often, the system’s deficiencies are too great to overcome.

Mahua Ray Chaudhuri frantically tagged Mr. Srinivas looking for oxygen for her sick father. His team found some, but that wasn’t enough: No I.C.U. beds were available.

“At least I could get him oxygen, and he died breathing,” Ms. Chaudhuri said by telephone, breaking down. “This help from strangers on Twitter was like a balm for our disturbed minds and souls.”

But Mr. Srinivas’s team was able to get plasma for Ms. Gill, the gynecologist, just in time. She is now recuperating in a hospital on the outskirts of Delhi.

“I feel choked with emotions,” she said. “Coming out of such a fatal time, I realize I have been helped selflessly by complete strangers.”

She recently called Mr. Srinivas to thank him. “Though I have never met her, it was a humbling experience hearing her voice,” he said. “I am so relieved she made it.”

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‘Every Time I’m Calling, Someone Has Died’: The Anguish of India’s Diaspora

LONDON — First, there was the scramble to find her father a bed in intensive care. Then came the price gouging for an all but impossible to find therapeutic injection. And, through it all, countless hours on the phone with doctors, family and friends dealing with logistical problems.

From nearly 5,000 miles and five time zones away, Anuja Vakil, 40, has been struggling for the last 12 days to help manage care for her father, Jatin Bhagat, who lies in critical condition in a hospital in Ahmedabad, in India’s western Gujarat State. She knows he has been lucky to get care at all.

“When I pray to God now, it is for my dad,” Ms. Vakil said. “He has to come back.”

Cases of the coronavirus have exploded in India in recent weeks, up to nearly 400,000 a day, surpassing all records and still rising. As they have, so, too, has the collective grief and anxiety among the huge Indian diaspora, over loved ones lost or fighting for their lives amid a health-care system pushed past the brink. In WhatsApp chats, video calls, Facebook groups and forums, a global community has worried, mourned and organized.

Some 17 million people from India were living outside their homeland in 2020, according to figures from the United Nations, and millions more have Indian heritage, making the diaspora the largest in the world. In the United States, some 4.8 million people were either born in India or reported Indian ancestry on the last census.

pooling money to buy oxygen concentrators, connecting those in need of care with doctors and using community networks to share resources.

Deliveries of aid collected by the diaspora are beginning to arrive in India, alongside government relief fromBritain, the United States, Germany and Australia among others.

Ms. Vakil has tried to focus on these positives. While it has been hard to be away from family, she says her local Indian community in London has proved to be a lifeline, and she speaks with a friend in New York whose own father is unwell. She tries to lift her father’s spirits with daily video calls, and his doctors are hopeful he can pull through.

added to Britain’s travel “red list” last week, halting nearly all direct flights and imposing an expensive and mandatory 10-day hotel quarantine for the few citizens and residents who are allowed in. And on Friday, the United States said it would start restricting travel from India beginning next week.

The restrictions, steep costs, job commitments and a fear of contracting the virus have left many unable to travel. As cases of the coronavirus continue to rise, many described painful conversations with friends and relatives at home, and a feeling of helplessness as they watched the horrors unfold half a world away.

as the government allowed cricket matches in packed stadiums, mass election rallies and a major religious festival called Kumbh Mela, where millions gathered in one city. Meanwhile, case levels began to rise exponentially.

In Britain, home to a vibrant and diverse community of people with roots in India, the pain is palpable. In a neighborhood shop in Harrow, a community in London’s northwest with a large Indian population, two staffers recounted losing a brother in the last week.

The cultural ties between the two countries run deep, with Britain’s large Indian diaspora estimated to number over 1.5 million people — the single largest ethnic minority population in the country. For many, the loss, anxiety or grief they are experiencing as family members became ill in recent weeks are compounding what was already a difficult year, and just as Britain is emerging from lockdown and hopeful about crushing the virus.

Harmeet Gill, 31, was born and raised in London, but his parents are from Indian’s northern Punjab State, and they remain extremely close with extended family there.

disproportionately hit by the pandemic. “We went through it here and we thought, ‘Well, at least India was protected.’ They were doing reasonably well.”

But it didn’t last, and on Monday his uncle died from the coronavirus. His aunt was hospitalized on Thursday. In pre-pandemic times, his family would all have traveled to India to mourn his uncle, a patriarch of a tight-knit Sikh family.

“It’s just the sheer, sort of, helplessness of it,” he said, adding that along with the shock and sorrow is a growing anger about government mismanagement. “They know it didn’t need to happen the way it has happened.”

Mr. Gill, who volunteers at a Sikh temple in the London neighborhood of Southall, has seen the impact of the outbreak in India ripple through his community, noting “the sheer scale of it means we all have become a bit numb to it now.”

The temple has been a hub of aid throughout Britain’s outbreak, delivering thousands of meals weekly, and members are now looking for ways to help back home.

Indian doctors living abroad have also been providing medical expertise and advice to dozens of friends and family members. Many wake early to go through dozens of messages asking for help, and some even provide video consultations.

Rajesh Hembrom, 43, originally from Bhagalpur in India’s Bihar State, has lived and worked as a doctor in Britain since 2003. His wife is also a frontline health care worker, and when cases surged in England early last year, his elderly father and older sisters were anxious.

“They were quite worried, and there was quite a degree of calm back home,” he said, “until it all erupted.”

But then the dynamic shifted, and as the numbers surged family and close friends began messaging, frantically seeking help. At the moment, he is advising around 30 people by phone, he said, helping to manage their care or offering any insights that he can. Some of the people he was trying to help have died.

“There are no proper help lines where they can call so they end up clutching at straws, and they know me, so obviously they contact me,” he said.

A childhood friend is being treated in a hospital in Mumbai, and family members are in touch with Dr. Hembrom daily. He fears his friend won’t make it.

“We see a lot of death in our medical work,” he said. “But never have I seen so many people so close to me that are already dead or are possibly going to die. It’s almost like a war zone in some ways, without a visible enemy.”

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Cricket in India Carries On, Diverting Resources From Coronavirus Fight

As plumes of smoke rose from cremation grounds, where bodies were arriving faster than they could be burned, teams of professional cricket players squared off under the lights of a cavernous stadium named for India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi.

The jarring scenes unfolded on Thursday in Ahmedabad, the capital of Mr. Modi’s home state of Gujarat and a hot spot in India’s spiraling coronavirus outbreak, which is claiming an average of nearly 3,000 lives a day nationwide.

For decades, cricket and its charismatic stars have commanded exalted status in India, where the once-genteel colonial game attracts its biggest and most passionate fan base. Now, public anger is growing at the sport’s marquee international product, the Indian Premier League, which is playing matches in a “bio-bubble” without spectators that has drawn criticism for diverting resources from the country’s wider coronavirus fight.

“There is a lack of empathy for dead bodies lying in crematoriums surrounding your stadium,” said Rahul Verma, a lawyer and die-hard cricket fan who said he had been a devoted follower of the cricket league since it started in 2008. “This game, a gentleman’s game, never was so grotesque.”

oxygen, medicine and other scarce supplies. Many Indians say they do not know if they are infected with the coronavirus because overwhelmed labs have stopped processing tests.

But one group that seems unaffected is the wealthy and powerful Board of Control for Cricket in India, the regulatory body that oversees the Indian Premier League, which was modeled on soccer’s Premier League in England and features players from around the world.

The board has kept ambulances fitted with mobile intensive-care beds on standby outside stadiums where matches are being played in case a player falls sick. It is testing players every two days and has created a travel bubble between stadiums in the six states hosting matches, including dedicated airport check-in counters for cricketers.

said in a letter released this week that the health and safety of players and staff members were “of paramount importance,” and added that the matches, which conclude on May 30, were a needed distraction in a difficult time.

“When you all walk out onto the field, you are bringing hope to millions of people who have tuned in,” he wrote.

But the league’s safety protocols have only highlighted the gap between its star players — who have said little publicly in the face of criticism — and the rest of the country.

“That ambulance outside that stadium could have saved at least ten lives a day,” said Ishan Singh, a cricket fan in Delhi. “These players are thieves. Given a chance, they will rob wood from the cremations and sell it in the market.”

The New Indian Express, a daily newspaper, said in an editorial this week that it would suspend coverage of the cricket league until “a semblance of normalcy is restored” in the country.

“This is commercialism gone crass,” the newspaper wrote. “The problem is not with the game but its timing.”

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Fans come out in prepandemic numbers for an Australian rules football match.

MELBOURNE, Australia — More than 78,000 people attended an Australian rules football match in Melbourne on Sunday night in what is believed to be the world’s biggest crowd at a sporting event since the coronavirus pandemic began.

The annual A.F.L. match between the Essendon and Collingwood teams is held on Anzac Day, which commemorates Australian and New Zealand soldiers, and includes a ceremony to honor the troops. It often draws the largest crowds of the season, sometimes even outselling the grand final match.

Just three days earlier, the government of the state of Victoria, of which Melbourne is the capital, had increased the attendance cap for the 100,000-capacity venue, the Melbourne Cricket Ground, to 85 percent from 75 percent. Three other Australian states have removed all limits on crowds at sporting events.

Last year, the match was canceled because of the pandemic and the Anzac Day ceremony was performed in an empty stadium.

baseball game hosted by the Texas Rangers, which was attended by about 38,000 people.

The A.F.L. match in Australia came a day after more than 50,000 fans packed into a stadium in Auckland, New Zealand, for what organizers said was the largest concert in the world since the pandemic began. The two countries, which have all but eliminated local transmission of the coronavirus, opened a travel bubble this month.

Both countries have responded to periodic outbreaks with immediate lockdowns, most recently in Perth, Australia’s fourth-largest city and the capital of Western Australia State, which went into a three-day lockdown on Saturday after a man tested positive for the virus after leaving hotel quarantine. So far, two related cases have been detected in the community.

The lockdown will end at midnight on Monday, but the state’s premier, Mark McGowan said some restrictions, like mandatory mask wearing and a limit of 20 people for gatherings, will remain for another four days. Citing the burden on the hotel quarantine system, he also said on Sunday that the state’s cap on the number of international air passengers allowed to arrive each week would be halved to 512 from April 29 to May 30, in another blow to the tens of thousands of Australians stranded overseas.

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Accident at Covid Hospital in India Kills at Least 22 as Cases Surge

NEW DELHI — India’s health care system shows signs of buckling under the strain of a second wave of coronavirus infections, as the authorities reported nearly 300,000 new cases on Wednesday and an accident at a Covid-19 hospital killed more than 20 people.

The accident happened at a hospital in the western state of Maharashtra after a leak in the hospital’s main oxygen tank stopped the flow of oxygen to dozens of critically ill people. Televised images showed family members wailing in the wards and nurses frantically pounding on the chests of some patients.

All week, hospitals across India have been warning about an acute oxygen shortage. Many hospital officials said they were just a few hours away from running out.

“Nobody imagined this would happen,” said Subhash Salunke, a medical adviser to the Maharashtra government.

recent political rallies held by Mr. Modi that have drawn thousands, as well as the government’s decision to allow an enormous Hindu festival to continue despite signs that it has become a superspreader event. A few days ago, Mr. Modi indicated that he wanted Hindu worshipers to stay away from this year’s festival, called the Kumbh Mela, which is held on the banks of the Ganges river considered sacred by many Hindus.

But the worshipers keep coming — 70,000 showed up on Wednesday for a holy dip, bringing the total to more than 10 million since the festival began in January — and government officials on the ground are doing little to stop them.

Event organizers said that worshipers were required to produce a negative coronavirus test result or be tested on the spot, but they also acknowledged that with such huge crowds, some participants could have slipped in without being tested. Photographs show a sea of worshipers packed together in the gray waters of the river, many without masks. More than 1,000 tested positive at the site in just 48 hours, according to reports by the Indian news media.

Hindu-first worldview, is giving preferential treatment to Hindus.

“It is a clear example of double standards,” said Khalid Rasheed, chairman of the Islamic Center of India, a nonprofit religious organization.

He compared the government’s apparent endorsement of the Kumbh to the way it handled a much smaller gathering of a few thousand Islamic preachers in New Delhi last March. Not only was the seminary that hosted it shut down, but hundreds of people were also detained. Officials from Mr. Modi’s party blamed the seminary for spreading the virus.

an anti-Muslim campaign across India in which Muslims were attacked with cricket bats and run out of their neighborhoods. Many of the Muslims arrested at the seminary a year ago are still awaiting trial.

Government officials have defended the Kumbh festival as safe even as the virus infects some of its most high-profile attendees, including the former king of Nepal and his wife.

Another visitor who was infected is Tirath Singh Rawat, the chief minister of Uttarakhand, which as the state hosting this year’s festival stands to make millions in revenue from the pilgrims and vendors. Mr. Rawat mingled freely in the crowds without a mask, and told those who questioned him that “faith in God will overcome the fear of the virus.”

Shailesh Bagauli, a state official, said the timing of the festival had been determined by “optimal astrological conditions” and that the government had implemented measures like mask wearing and social distancing.

On Wednesday, news of the hospital oxygen leak quickly spread around the country, raising fears that the health care system here, which is chronically underfunded, was about to collapse.

Indian news channels showed images of the oxygen leak at Zakir Hussain Hospital in the city of Nashik.

“When we reached the spot, it was all foggy,” said S.K. Bairagi, a fire chief in the city. He said it took about 30 minutes to repair the tank.

The dwindling oxygen supply is becoming one of the most alarming aspects of India’s second wave. To expedite its delivery to hospitals, India’s railway service has begun running what it calls “oxygen express” trains across the country.

India’s health ministry has said that the daily demand for oxygen at hospitals has reached about 60 percent of the country’s daily production capacity of just over 7,000 metric tons. Government officials countered news reports this week that said India had increased oxygen exports as the second wave of infections was approaching, saying those exports amounted to less than 1 percent of daily production capacity.

But the health ministry also said that it was looking to import 50,000 metric tons of medical oxygen from abroad, a sign that India’s government may be concerned about the domestic supply.

On Tuesday night, more than a dozen hospitals in New Delhi, the capital, put out an alert saying they were hours away from running out of oxygen.

In Lucknow, another major city in northern India, the Mayo Medical Center warned on Wednesday that it was down to a 15-minute backup supply and that “oxygen is not available anywhere in Lucknow.”

Later in the day, hospital officials said they had received 40 oxygen cylinders. But medical experts said that with so many people falling sick, it was a dangerous time to be running low.

“There is definitely an oxygen shortage across the country,” said Shashank Joshi, an endocrinologist and member of the Covid task force in Maharashtra. “The situation is grim.”

Mujib Mashal contributed reporting from New Delhi, andBhadra Sharma from Kathmandu, Nepal.

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