As India’s second wave of coronavirus sweeps through the country, bodies are piling up faster than workers can cremate them or build new pyres. the virus is ravaging parts of India, with 386,452 new cases reported on Friday – the biggest one-day increase on record for any country.
There were another 3,500 deaths nationwide and nearly 400 in Delhi – a record for the capital.
The total number of infections in the country has now passed 18 million.
The first consignment of emergency medical supplies from the US arrived on Friday, part of what the White House has said will be more than $100m (£72m) worth of support.
But oxygen supplies and hospital beds remain in desperately short supply across India, with relatives of Covid patients pleading on social media for help.
One senior Delhi police officer said that people were having to cremate family members in crematoriums not designated to take victims of Covid-19.
“That’s why we suggested more crematoriums should be set up,” the officer told the NDTV news channel.
India’s Health Ministry released detailed guidelines last year for the handling and cremation of people who have died of Covid, with special measures needing to be taken to avoid any potential reinfection.
The U.S. State Department issued a travel advisory on Wednesday against travel to India because of the pandemic and advised its citizens to leave the country. Family members of U.S. government employees in India can voluntarily return to the United States, it added.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been criticised for allowing massive political rallies and religious festivals which have been super-spreader events in recent weeks.
‘We try to save a patient until the last breath’
US tells citizens to leave India amid Covid crisis
Why can’t Australians get back into their country?
India elections go ahead as deaths hit record high
India’s central government is facing mounting criticism over its handling of the pandemic and its decision to allow large election rallies and religious festivals to go ahead in recent weeks.
On Friday, the country’s Supreme Court defended the rights of citizens to express grievances and appeal for help on social media during the current coronavirus crisis, warning actions by the authorities to stop people doing so would be treated as contempt of court.
India expects close to 550 oxygen generating facilities from around the world as medical aid starts pouring in, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said on Thursday.
Two planes from Russia, carrying 20 oxygen concentrators, 75 ventilators, 150 bedside monitors, and 22 tonnes of medicine, have arrived in Delhi.
The United States is sending supplies worth more than $100 million, including 1,000 oxygen cylinders, 15 million N95 masks and 1 million rapid diagnostic tests, the White House said on Wednesday.
The United States also has redirected its own order of AstraZeneca (AZN.L) manufacturing supplies to India, to allow it to make more than 20 million doses, the White House said.
India will receive a first batch of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine on May 1. Russia’s RDIF sovereign wealth fund, which markets Sputnik V globally, has signed deals with five Indian manufacturers for more than 850 million vaccine doses a year.
Bangladesh said it would send about 10,000 vials of anti-viral medicines and 30,000 PPE kits.
Germany will send 120 ventilators on Saturday, and a mobile oxygen production facility next week, its defence ministry said
Jemma Lucy ( Editor Newspresslive)