India’s public health system is collapsing as the country experiences a second wave of COVID-19 – the worst surge in the world since the pandemic began.
For the fifth day in a row on Monday Apr. 26, India reported a record global high in daily coronavirus cases at 352,991 cases, right after reporting one million cases in just three days.
Hospitals in Delhi and other cities have run out of beds and oxygen supplies and are turning away patients, who are dying in line, sometimes on the roadside, waiting to be seen. Others are turning to the black market to get medicine or care, the BBC reported.
At least one person is dying every four minutes in New Delhi, according to Sky News.
Crematoriums and graveyards are completely overwhelmed. Images showed people having to perform last rites next to burning funeral pyres or forgo rituals entirely so the crematoriums can keep up with the bodies.
Authorities in Delhi are getting requests to start cutting down trees in city parks as kindling for the pyres, and burial grounds are running out of space, AP reported.
“The virus is swallowing our city’s people like a monster,” a crematorium official told AP. “We are just burning bodies as they arrive. It is as if we are in the middle of a war.”
The WHO called the situation “beyond heartbreaking.”
On Tuesday, the country recorded 2,771 deaths and 323,144 new cases, below Monday’s 352,991, but experts say the number is significantly higher.
On Sunday, India said it has administered 140 million vaccine doses, but there is still a long way to go before the entire population of 1.3 billion people is vaccinated. Countries including the UK, Germany and the US have pledged urgent medical aid.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is facing mounting criticism for his handling of the pandemic, having allowed Hindu festivals and attended huge election rallies that may have accelerated infections.