India postponed exams for trainee doctors and nurses on Monday, releasing them to fight the world’s largest influx of coronavirus infections as the health care system collapses under the weight of new cases and hospitals are left without beds and oxygen.
The total number of those infected so far has risen to just 20 million, caused by the 1
Medical experts say the actual number in India could be five to 10 times higher than reported.
Hospitals are full, medical oxygen supplies are depleted, and morgues and crematoria are overloaded with corpses. Patients die in hospital beds, in ambulances and in parking lots outside.
“Every time we have to fight to get our oxygen cylinder quota,” said BH Narayan Rao, a district official in the southern city of Chamarajanagar, which killed 24 COVID-19 patients, some of whom were suspected of oxygen deficiency. .
“It’s a daily battle,” Rao added as he described the hurried supply quarrel.
In many cases, volunteer groups have come to the rescue.
Outside the temple in the capital, New Delhi, Sikh volunteers supplied oxygen to patients lying on benches in makeshift tents attached to a giant cylinder. Every 20 minutes or so, a new patient came in.
“No one should die from lack of oxygen. Otherwise it’s a small thing, but nowadays it’s the only thing everyone needs,” Gurpreet Singh Rummy, who runs the service, told Reuters.
Total infections since the beginning of the pandemic have reached 19.93 million in India, swollen with 368,147 new cases in the last 24 hours, while the death toll rose by 3,417 to 218,959, according to the Ministry of Health. At least 3.4 million people are currently being treated.
Offering a glimmer of hope, the health ministry said positive cases on the number of tests fell on Monday for the first time since at least April 15th.
Modeling by a team of government advisers shows that coronavirus cases could peak by Wednesday this week, a few days earlier than the previous assessment, as the virus has spread faster than expected.
At least 11 countries and regions have ordered restrictions to stop infections, but the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, widely criticized for allowing the crisis to spiral out of control, is reluctant to declare a national blockade concerned about the economic impact. .
“In my opinion, only a national stay at home and the announcement of emergency medical care will help meet current health care needs,” Bhramar Mukherjee, an epidemiologist at the University of Michigan, said on Twitter.
CRISIS TESTS MODI
As medical facilities are close to the breaking point, the government is postponing an examination for doctors and nurses to allow some to join the battle for the coronavirus along with existing staff, the statement said.
In Pune, the second largest city in the state of Maharashtra, Dr. Mekund Penurkar returned to work just days after the loss of his father by COVID-19. His mother and brother are in the hospital with the virus, but patients are waiting to see him.
“This is a very difficult situation,” he said. “Since I have experienced such a situation myself, I cannot leave other patients to their fate.”
Modi has been criticized for not moving earlier to curb the spread and for allowing millions of largely unmasked people to attend religious festivals and crowded political rallies in five countries in March and April.
In early March, a forum of government scientific advisers warned officials about a new and more contagious version of controlling the coronavirus, five of its members told Reuters.
Despite the warning, four of the scientists said the federal government was not trying to impose major restrictions.
With the next general election coming in 2024, it remains to be seen how the pandemic could affect him or his party. His Hindu nationalist party was defeated Sunday in a state poll in the eastern state of West Bengal, although it won in neighboring Assam.
Leaders of 13 opposition parties called on Modi in a letter Sunday to start free national vaccinations immediately and to prioritize oxygen supplies to hospitals and health centers.
Although it is the largest producer of vaccines in the world, India does not have enough for itself. Only 9% of the 1.35 billion population received a dose.
Daily shots fell sharply from a record reached early last month as local companies struggled to increase supplies. Vaccination centers in Mumbai were abandoned after the state government said it did not have enough supplies to administer second doses to adults over the age of 45.
Only limited doses are available for those aged 18-44 and walking is not allowed.
India is struggling to increase capacity to more than 80 million doses a month due to a lack of raw materials and a fire at the Serum Institute, which makes the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Another manufacturer, Pfizer Inc (PFE.N), is in talks with the government to “expedite approval” of its vaccine, CEO Albert Burla said on LinkedIn, announcing a donation of more than $ 70 million worth of drugs.
Last month, India said its drug regulator would decide within three days on emergency applications for foreign vaccines, including Pfizer’s.
International aid has been poured in response to the crisis.
Britain will send another 1,000 fans to India, the government said on Sunday. Prime Ministers Boris Johnson and Modi will speak on Tuesday.
The Indian version of COVID-19 has already reached at least 17 countries, including Britain, Iran and Switzerland, prompting several countries to close their borders to travelers from India.
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