India Suffering From Oxygen and Hospital Bed Shortage

By: SEAN HANRAHAN

India | Financial Times

India’s second coronavirus wave that began mid-March has resulted in the world’s worst outbreak since the pandemic started. On May 3rd alone, Indian health officials reported 3,573,186 cases with a 7 day average of 378,092 cases per day.

India’s essential services, including healthcare, are crumbling under the weight of this wave. Jalil Parkar, a senior pulmonary consultant at the Lilavati Hospital in Mumbai, said “It’s like a tsunami”.

Ramanan Laxminarayan, director of the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics and Policy in New Delhi, reports “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.” Graveyards are quickly running out of space while hospitals are having to turn away hundreds of patients daily.

Last week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the “very big battle” against COVID-19. He did, however, state  that he will use lockdown as the last option to battle the pandemic. Despite this, New Delhi entered a week-long lockdown, as the city quickly ran out of oxygen tanks and spare hospital beds.

Authorities nationwide scramble to convert sports complexes, schools, hotels, and banquet halls into temporary health care facilities in order to house those infected with COVID-19. Prime Minister Modi also appeared to call upon the delivery of 100,000 additional cylinders of oxygen to be delivered nationwide.

“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,” Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said. “Every healthcare system has its limits. No system can accommodate unlimited patients.”

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