COVID cases cross 24 mln in India, surge in Nepal

India’s COVID-19 infections crossed 24 million on Friday, as the country's outbreak stretches into neighboring Nepal.

A highly transmissible variant of the virus has wreaked havoc across India's rural areas, where two-thirds of the country's population have limited access to healthcare.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said his government was “on a war footing” to contain the infections.

On Friday Eid celebrations marking the end of Ramadan were subdued, as most states imposed lockdowns and closed down mosques.

Modi has come under increasing pressure to impose a national lockdown as the variant first detected within its borders spreads around the globe.

Its northern neighbor Nepal has seen 57 times more COVID-19 infections compared to a month ago.

As the death toll surges, officials in Kathmandu are scrambling to cremate bodies and create space near riverbanks for funerals.

The fresh outbreak there has also led to a shortage of hospital beds and medical supplies.

Nearly half of the COVID tests in Nepal last week came back positive, according to the Red Cross, but only 1% of the population has been fully vaccinated.

The country's Prime Minister has been forced to step down over his response to the crisis.

Several countries have extended their travel bans on India to include Nepal, as well as Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.