INDIA RATTLED BY COVID-19 SURGE
In New Delhi, one sound is conspicuous these days -- the siren of ambulances. More so outside the Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital, one of India's largest COVID-19 facilities, according to Anadolu news agency.
As India is witnessing an unprecedented surge in coronavirus cases, the hospitals in Delhi and other parts of the country are overflowing with patients, with experts warning the health care system is teetering on the brink of collapse.
“Two weeks ago, I used to bring one or two patients here…but now I drop 5-6 positive patients every day to the different hospitals. It is very scary,” says Sarvesh Pandey, an ambulance driver, outside the Lok Nayak Hospital.
India's daily cases have topped 200,000 since Thursday, with Delhi reporting nearly 24,000 new cases for the first time on Friday. With more patients arriving at the hospital, the critical care facilities at the Lok Nayak Hospital are almost occupied, leading to a shortage of beds.
As per the Delhi government’s COVID-19 app, as of Sunday morning, of the total 4,124 Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds with ventilator support, only 89 were vacant. “There is a lot of burden on the hospital. We are trying our best to provide facilities to the patients who are coming here,” Dr. Suresh Kumar, medical director of the hospital, told Anadolu Agency.
Other public hospitals in Delhi are also in a dire state. Out of a total of some 17,000 COVID-19 beds in the capital, only a little above 3,600 are vacant.
Delhi’s Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Saturday said the situation is very serious and concerning. “Now, there is a shortage of oxygen supply,” he said, adding that beds equipped with oxygen and ICU beds are filling fast.
Running from pillar to post
Many family members have had to run from pillar to post to find an ICU bed. “We first went to GTB [Guru Teg Bahadur] Hospital yesterday, but we were informed that there is no bed available there. We then came here and here we were given one,” said Anil Kumar from Delhi’s Mehrauli area, whose father tested COVID-19 positive a few days back.
Reports have been coming in from different parts of the country about the shortage of hospital beds. Many aggrieved citizens took to social media to share their ordeal.
Chitranshul Sinha, a lawyer, said his cousin could not get a hospital bed in Ranchi city and died. “In his final hours neither could he get a COVID test (for days), nor could he get a hospital bed,” he wrote on Twitter.