Rest of Asia

Covid-19: Strong wave sweeps India as cases, deaths surge

Nithin Belle/Mumbai
Filed on April 16, 2021 | Last updated on April 16, 2021 at 12.02 am
Health workers help a patient shift from a dedicated Covid-19 hospital to another hospital in Ahmedabad. — Reuters

Hospitals in many cities report severe shortages of beds and oxygen as daily cases surge to record 200,000

With more than 200,000 new infections on Thursday, India’s Covid-19 nightmare is reaching frightening levels. Over a thousand people died in a 24-hour span and hospitals in many cities are reporting a shortage of beds, oxygen and Remdesivir injections.

The Indian capital was the worst-hit, with the Delhi government imposing a weekend curfew. On Wednesday, it saw a massive 17,282 new cases of Covid-19, even as tens of thousands of residents stood in long queues hoping to get treatment at hospitals across the metro.

The government has begun using schools, sports complexes and banquet halls as temporary hospitals to provide treatment for the soaring number of patients needing medicines and treatment.

The second worst-hit nation in terms of Covid cases, India’s numbers have jumped to over 14 million. More than 174,000 have died battling the disease.

While Delhi’s situation worsened, in Maharashtra cities such as Mumbai and Pune continued to report record new cases. While the total number of cases in Maharashtra topped 3.5 million on Thursday, other states are also witnessing a steep increase. Kerala now has more than 1.17 million cases, Karnataka in excess of a million, and Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh have over 936,000 cases each. In fact, Karnataka saw its highest single-day spike this year with 11,265 new infections on Thursday.

The Maharashtra government has imposed tough curfew-like conditions across the state, which will be in force till May 1. This has had some effect, with Covid-19 cases declining slightly.

Both Pune and Mumbai had seen their highest, single-day peak of Covid on April 4, recording 12,494 and 11,163 cases respectively.

In Mumbai, the sharp drop in the number of airline passengers has forced Mumbai International Airport Ltd to shut down operations at terminal 1. Both domestic and international passengers will be handled at terminal 2.

The Mumbai civic body has also allowed two 5-star hotels — InterContinental Hotel, Marine Drive, and Trident in the Bandra-Kurla complex — to use 42 beds for patients. Other hotels might also be approached for the facility. The Maharashtra government is also setting up three ‘jumbo’ hospitals for the expected surge in patients.

Other cities across India are also witnessing a surge in new cases. They include Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad in the south, besides many in Gujarat, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh.

The worst fears are the likely impact of the Kumbh Mela, which has drawn millions of pilgrims from across the country to Haridwar in Uttarakhand. The authorities there are unable to ensure that people wear masks and follow the tough guidelines relating to interactions with others.

The Covid crisis in India could balloon again once these people start returning home in a few days.

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