India surges past 200,000 Covid deaths as health system collapses

India recorded 200,000 Covid-19 deaths on Wednesday, making it only the fourth country to do so as it battles a devastating second wave of infections.

The surge in new infections has brought hospitals across the country to a breaking point where there is a lack of medical oxygen and beds. Patients and their loved ones are desperate for hospitals with intensive care units to accommodate them and are turning to social media to find free beds and oxygen online.

Increasing infections are overwhelming not only hospitals but also crematoriums, which are running out of space. Funerals take place in nearby parks, parking lots, and other temporary cremation areas – images of bodies burning on rows of pyres have been seen around the world.

India, the second most populous country in the world, reported 360,960 new Covid infections on Tuesday and again broke the record for the world’s highest number in one day, according to the Indian Ministry of Health. Overall, India has 17.9 million cases, second only to the US with more than 32 million cases.

Tuesday was also India’s deadliest day of the pandemic to date, with 3,293 deaths. Experts fear that the official balance sheet greatly underestimates the actual death toll in a nation of over 1.35 billion people.

“It is extremely contagious and those who become infected with it do not recover quickly. Intensive care units are in great demand in these conditions,” said Arvind Kejriwal, Delhi Chief Minister, in an online press conference Tuesday.

Dr. Siddharth Sridhar, a clinical virologist with the Hong Kong University’s Department of Microbiology, told NBC News that the surge in cases was due to a very unfortunate combination of events.

“They had very large public events, both in terms of election campaigns and in terms of religious gatherings,” he said.

“When that number of people come together and there is evidence that mask wearing and social distancing are not followed, it would really act as a boost to the transmission.”

Dr. Sridhar added that there is some uncertainty in some parts of India about the increasing discovery of the new virus variant, but it is difficult to say how much this adds beyond the human factors of large crowds that congregate along with limited infection control in proportions .

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In India last month there were mass gatherings in religious communities such as the week-long Kumbh Mela in Haridwar and in the parliamentary elections in West Bengal state.

A man runs past the burning pyre of those who died of Covid-19 during a mass incineration in New Delhi, India on April 26, 2021.Adnan Abidi / Reuters

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bhartiya Janata party have received criticism of a slow and botched response to the second wave of infections in the country, including complacency with mass gatherings.

With pointed cases, modes tweeted He chaired a meeting on Monday to review the availability of medical infrastructure in the country, particularly to address oxygen shortages and increase the availability of beds and intensive care units.

Countries around the world are also rallying to offer critical assistance to India.

According to Reuters, senior US officials pledged on Tuesday to provide sustained support to India in dealing with the crisis. President Joe Biden said to Modi Monday, “You let me know what you need and we will. ”

According to Reuters, the World Health Organization is also sending relief supplies and personnel to help India fight the pandemic, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom said in a briefing on Monday.

Britain’s Prince Charles, heir to Queen Elizabeth II, shared a message of support on Wednesday. “As India has helped others, we must now help India,” he said.

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