The coronavirus crisis in India is worsening and hospitals are buckling under the increasing pressure of the second wave of infections.
The South Asian country reported 259,170 new cases and 1,761 deaths within 24 hours on Tuesday, according to government figures. It is the sixth day in a row that India’s daily caseload exceeded 200,000, while the daily death toll – still comparatively low – continues to rise.
Cases have risen since February and so far India has reported more than 3.1 million new cases and over 18,000 deaths this month. The total number of cumulative cases has exceeded 15 million, making India the second worst infected country after the US.
“With the huge number of cases and the increase, we see that hospitals are really overwhelmed – and that is a challenge we must face,” said K VijayRaghavan, Chief Scientific Advisor to the Government of India, told CNBC’s Street Signs Asia ” on Tuesday.
Hospitals reject patients because of a lack of beds – even those who are seriously ill. In some cases, unrelated patients are being forced to share beds, according to media reports. Oxygen supplies are also poor in health facilities and the government is reportedly diverting oxygen destined for industrial use for medical purposes.
VijayRaghavan said the government is trying to cope with the strain on the medical system by moving healthcare workers from one location to another and setting up emergency hospitals.
Covid facility is being prepared on April 19, 2021 at the Commonwealth Games Village Sports Complex in New Delhi, India.
Mohd Zakir | Hindustan Times | Getty Images
States are partially blocked
So far, India has resisted a second nationwide lockdown – last year’s nationwide lockdown from late March to May has disproportionately damaged the informal sector and kept India from growing.
However, states are tightening social restrictions as hard-hit places are partially closed.
The epicenter of the second wave is India’s richest state, Maharashtra, which is home to the country’s financial capital, Mumbai. The western state alone has reported over a million new cases since the beginning of April.
Maharashtra is already in a state of partial lockdown until May 1st. However, more restrictions are reportedly expected as the daily number of cases shows little sign of slowing down.
The state capital Delhi as well as India’s most populous state, Uttar Pradesh, are also among a handful of regions and states where the number of cases of Covid-19 is increasing.
Delhi initiated a six-day partial lockdown on Monday, during which only essential services are allowed to operate.
Prime Minister Arvind Kejriwal said in a virtual press conference that it would help local government organize more hospital beds, although he is generally against a lockdown if people in Delhi stay at home and work with the federal government to increase supplies of oxygen and medicines. He begged people to watch the lockdown and not go out unnecessarily.
Other states, including Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Haryana, Gujarat, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu, have also tightened restrictions, such as the introduction of curfews at night.
Extension of vaccines to other groups
The Serum Institute produces AstraZeneca’s shot, known locally as Covishield. The world’s largest vaccine maker previously said its manufacturing capacity was “very stressed” and it needed about $ 400 million to increase supply.
VijayRaghavan told CNBC that India is “fully aware that we are part of global supply chains and that there is a moral, economic and pragmatic responsibility to balance what we need for our people and what we need, our responsibilities elsewhere to bring. And we’ll meet. ” both.”
India recently approved a third emergency vaccine – Sputnik V, which is being developed in Russia. It also approved overseas-made vaccines that received emergency approval from the agencies listed in the US, UK, European Union, Japan, and World Health Organization-listed agencies.