India records largest increase in coronavirus cases in the world
India on Thursday marked a new milestone in the COVID-19 pandemic, reporting 314,835 new cases daily, the highest tally in a day, as its second wave and similar outbreaks elsewhere raised new concerns about the capacity of health services to cope.
Hospitals in northern and western India, including the capital, New Delhi, have issued notices saying they have only a few hours of medical oxygen to keep COVID-19 patients at bay. life.
More than two-thirds of hospitals had no vacant beds, according to the Delhi government online database and doctors advised patients to stay at home.
“The situation is very critical,” Dr Kirit Gadhvi, president of the Medical Association in the city of Ahmedabad, in the west of the country, told Reuters.
“Patients are struggling to get beds in COVID-19 hospitals. There is a particularly acute shortage of oxygen.”
Krutika Kuppalli, assistant professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases at the Medical University of South Carolina in the United States, said on Twitter that the crisis is causing the health system to collapse.
The record one-day increase in the number of cases was previously held by the United States, which had 297,430 new cases in one day in January, although the number has since declined sharply.
The total number of cases in India is now 15.93 million, while deaths have increased by 2,104 to a total of 184,657, according to the latest data from the Ministry of Health.
Television showed footage of people with empty oxygen cylinders piling up filling facilities in the most populous state of Uttar Pradesh as they scrambled to save loved ones in hospital.
“We never thought that a second wave would hit us so hard,” Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, executive chairman of Biocon & Biocon Biologics, an Indian healthcare company, wrote in the Economic Times.
“Complacency has led to unforeseen shortages of drugs, medical supplies and hospital beds.”
Similar outbreaks of infections elsewhere, in South America in particular, threaten to overwhelm other health services.
India has launched a vaccination campaign, but only a tiny fraction of the population has been vaccinated.
Authorities have announced that vaccines will be available to anyone over the age of 18 from May 1, but India will not have enough vaccines for the 600 million people who will become eligible, experts say.
Health experts said India let its guard down when the virus appeared to be under control during the winter, when daily new cases were around 10,000, and lifted restrictions to allow large gatherings.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has come under fire for organizing crowded political rallies for the local elections and allowing a religious holiday in which millions of people gathered.
Despite the biggest public health emergency the country has faced in a generation on Thursday, people voted in the state of West Bengal for a new state assembly in an election in which Modi campaigned.
“It is a festival of democracy and everyone participates in it. You can see the queues,” said Krishna Kalyan, a candidate for Modi’s ruling party, Bharatiya Janata.
Experts say the newer variants, especially a “double mutant” variant that originated in India, are largely responsible for the new spikes in cases.
“The double mutant … is considerably more infectious than the older strain of virus,” said Gautam I. Menon, professor at Ashoka University.
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