A family member of a Covid-19 infected patient saw him carry an empty oxygen bottle outside a store to refill amid the rising number of coronavirus cases.
Manish Rajput | SOPA pictures | LightRocket | Getty Images
India’s daily new Covid-19 cases topped 400,000 for the third time this month as the country struggles to contain a devastating second wave.
Health ministry data released on Friday showed there were 414,188 new cases in 24 hours of at least 3,915 people who had succumbed to the disease. However, reports of overburdened crematoria and cemeteries, as well as a growing number of obituaries in local newspapers, suggest that the official figures underestimate the real death toll.
The total number of reported cases in the South Asian country is currently 21.49 million while the number of deaths exceeds 234,000. In just the past seven days, India has reported more than 2.7 million cases and over 25,700 deaths, or an average of at least 153 people an hour die.
While the Indian government has so far resisted calls for another national lockdown, states have tightened restrictions, including local lockdowns and curfews. However, health professionals are concerned that the pandemic is now spreading to small towns and villages where health infrastructure is not advanced enough to support a surge in certain cases.
The second wave started in February, but cases rose at an alarming rate from April. The World Health Organization has stated that the sharp rise in infections may be due in part to several mutated versions of the virus circulating in the country, including local variant B.1.617 and variant B.1.1.7, which have been detected in the UK
However, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration has criticized the fact that large crowds gathered for religious festivals and election campaigns across the country earlier this year and then left most of the responsibility for combating the outbreak to state governments. India’s hospitals are overwhelmed and there is a lack of beds, medical oxygen and drugs to treat Covid-19 patients.
India’s Supreme Court reportedly asked the central government to prepare for an expected third wave of outbreaks and revise its formula for distributing oxygen across the country. That comes a day after the Supreme Court gave the government 24 hours to formulate a plan to meet Delhi’s oxygen needs.
The court intervened after 12 Covid-19 patients, including a doctor, died in a New Delhi hospital last week when medical oxygen was gone for 80 minutes, according to the Associated Press.
K. VijayRaghavan, the main scientific advisor to the Indian government, urged people on Twitter to maintain social distancing and other Covid-appropriate behavior to prevent the virus from spreading exponentially. But many of the cities that are experiencing an increase in certain cases are also very densely populated.
Earlier this week, he told a press conference that a third wave “is inevitable given the higher levels of the virus circulating. However, it is not clear on what timescale this third phase will take place. Hopefully gradually, but we should prepare for it.” new waves. “