2 top officials of India’s poll panel test positive for COVID-19

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NEW DELHI, April 20 (Xinhua) — Two top officials of the Election Commission of India (ECI) — chief election commissioner Sushil Chandra and election commissioner Rajiv Kumar — have tested positive for COVID-19, officials said Tuesday.

“Chief election commissioner Sushil Chandra and election commissioner Rajiv Kumar have tested positive for COVID-19 and were working from home,” an ECI official said.

The development comes at a time when the ECI is short of one commissioner.

Chandra was elevated from the election commissioner rank to the top position of the poll panel following the retirement of former chief election commissioner Sunil Arora on April 13. Since then the post of election commissioner is vacant in the poll body.

Local elections are underway in India’s eastern state of West Bengal. Five phases of the eight-phase staggered polls have been completed and three more phases are to be completed by April 29.

Reports said other senior officials, such as some deputy election commissioners, also have contracted the virus and all of them are in quarantine.

India registered 1,761 COVID-19 deaths in the last 24 hours, the biggest one-day spike.

The health ministry Tuesday morning said 259,170 new COVID-19 cases were registered in the past 24 hours across the country.

India is witnessing a resurgence in COVID-19 cases.

Several states, including Delhi, have announced curfew and lockdowns in the wake of the rapid spread of infections.

Apart from the rapid spread of the disease, India is also struggling with an acute shortage in supplies of oxygen, availability of hospital beds and essential drugs. Some states have flagged the federal government about the shortage of COVID-19 vaccine stocks. Enditem

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