India: Doctor breaks down as she discusses coronavirus situation
In the midst of a surge fuelled by the so-called Indian variant, the country’s total COVID-19 cases passed 18 million today after another world record daily infection, with gravediggers working around the clock burying victims, and rows of funeral pyres were built in parks and parking lots. And one medical expert admitted India had been caught off guard by the “ferocity” of the second wave of Covid engulfing his country.
Mrs Crawford, the broadcaster’s Special Correspondent, tweeted: “Just seen 42 ambulances outside one crematorium in #delhi.
“Bodies stacked up waiting inside for cremation. Many still in the ambulances waiting to be delivered. Carnage #coronavirus #india”
India, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, reported 379,257 new COVID-19 cases and 3,645 new deaths today, according to health ministry data. The statistic represented was the country’s highest number of deaths reported in a single day since the start of the pandemic.
A medic in India in front of burning funeral pyres (Image: GETTY)
Alex Crawford’s tweet (Image: Twitter)
The world’s second-most populous nation is in deep crisis with its hospitals and morgues overwhelmed and healthcare professionals struggling to cope with the pandemic.
Mumbai gravedigger Sayyed Munir Kamruddin said he and his colleagues were working non-stop to bury COVID-19 victims.
The 52-year-old said: “I’m not scared of Covid, I’ve worked with courage. It’s all about courage, not about fear.
Covid cases in India are surging, fuelled by the new variant (Image: GETTY)
“This is our only job. Getting the body, removing it from the ambulance, and then burying it.”
Each day, thousands of Indians are searching for hospital beds and life saving oxygen for sick relatives, using social media apps and personal contacts. When hospital beds become available, especially in intensive care units, they are snapped up almost instantly.
Dr Krishnaswamy VijayRaghavan told the Indian Express: “The ferocity of the second wave did take everyone by surprise.
“While we were all aware of second waves in other countries, we had vaccines at hand, and no indications from modeling exercises suggested the scale of the surge.”
A workman builds concrete stands for funeral pyres in India (Image: GETTY)
Hospital beds in India are scarce (Image: GETTY)
India’s military has begun transporting key medical supplies, such as oxygen canisters, across the country and will open its healthcare facilities to civilians. Hotels and railway coaches have been converted into critical care facilities to make up for the shortage of hospital beds.
India is trying desperately to vaccinate its 1.4 billion population, and on Wednesday the country opened registrations for everyone above the age of 18 to be given jabs from Saturday.
But although it is the world’s biggest producer of vaccines, India does not have the stocks for the estimated 800 million people now eligible for jabs.
Many people who tried to sign up for the vaccinations said they failed, complaining on social media that they could not get a slot or they simply could not get online to register as the website repeatedly crashed.
Covid cases worldwide as of yesterday (Image: Express)
However, a Government statement flatly denied this, saying:”Statistics indicate that far from crashing or performing slowly, the system is performing without any glitches.”
The government said more than eight million people had registered for the vaccinations, but it was not immediately clear how many had got slots.
Just nine percent of Indians have received one dose since the vaccination campaign began in January with health workers and then the elderly.
While India’s second wave of infections has overwhelmed the country’s health system, its official death rate remains that of Brazil and the United States.
India is battling to vaccinate its 1.4 billion people (Image: GETTY)
However, medical experts believe India’s true COVID-19 numbers may be 5 to 10 times greater than the official tally.
US Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren tweeted: “India’s COVID outbreak is a humanitarian crisis.
“I’m leading a letter to @moderna_tx, @pfizer, and @jnjnews to find out what steps they’re taking to expand global access to their vaccines to save lives and prevent variants from spreading around the world.”
India was last week placed in the Red Zone of countries from which travel to the UK is banned.