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India’s second COVID-19 wave hits like a ‘tsunami’

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

Healthcare and other essential services across India are close to collapse as a second coronavirus wave that started in mid-March tears through the country with devastating speed.

Healthcare and other essential services across India are close to collapse as a second coronavirus wave that started in mid-March tears through the country with devastating speed.

Graveyards are running out of space, hospitals are turning away patients, and desperate families are pleading for help on social media for beds and medicine.

India reported 295,041 cases of coronavirus and 2023 deaths on Wednesday, its highest rise in cases and highest death increase recorded in a single day since the beginning of the pandemic, according to a CNN tally of figures from the Indian Ministry of Health.

READ MORE: Patient left gasping for air for 10 hours as Indian hospitals buckle

People fill up oxygen cylinders for housed patients at Shaheen Bagh   in New Delhi.

"The volume is humongous," said Jalil Parkar, a senior pulmonary consultant at the Lilavati Hospital in Mumbai, which had to convert its lobby into an additional Covid ward. "It's just like a tsunami."

"Things are out of control," said Ramanan Laxminarayan, director of the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics and Policy in New Delhi.

"There's no oxygen. A hospital bed is hard to find. It's impossible to get a test. You have to wait over a week. And pretty much every system that could break down in the health care system has broken down," he said.

To prove his point, at least 22 Covid-19 patients who were on ventilator support died Wednesday waiting for oxygen supplies that were lost in an accident, a senior official from the Nashik district in the Indian state of Maharashtra said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the nation on Tuesday, acknowledging the country's "very big battle" against Covid-19.

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Roads empty at Sector 21-22 due to a Covid-19 lockdown in Chandigarh, India.

He appealled to states to "use a lockdown as their last option," even as the capital New Delhi entered its first full day of a week-long lockdown.

On Monday, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal warned that failing to halt movement in the city could lead to "tragedy."

"We don't want to take Delhi to a place where patients are lying in hospital corridors and people are dying on roads," Kejriwal said.

Coronavirus patients relax at Shehnai Banquet Hall Covid-19 care centre, attached to LNJP Hospital  in New Delhi.

On Tuesday, he warned that some Delhi hospitals were "left with just a few hours of oxygen," as authorities scrambled to convert sports complexes, banquet halls, hotels and schools into much-needed treatment centers, with the goal to add 6000 additional beds within days.

"Our healthcare system has reached its limit. It is now in a state of distress. It has not collapsed yet but it is in distress," Kejriwal said. "Every healthcare system has its limits. No system can accommodate unlimited patients."

Free oxygen cylinders are distributed by the Resident Welfare Association (RWA) Turkman Gate for Covid-19 patients at Gali Ahata Meer Bukhari in New Delhi.

With shortages being reported across the country, local and state leaders appealed to the federal government for more oxygen and medicine.

Modi appeared to answer those calls on Tuesday, announcing plans for the delivery of 100,000 cylinders of oxygen nationwide, new oxygen production plants, and hospitals dedicated to Covid patients.

But experts fear it's too little, too late, as positive patients compete for limited resources and mass gatherings threaten to spread the virus even further.

Source: 9News

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