Graveyards are running out of space, hospitals are turning away patients, and desperate families are pleading for help on social media for beds and medicine.
India reported 295,041 cases of coronavirus and 2,023 deaths Wednesday, its highest rise in cases and highest death increase recorded in a single day since the beginning of the pandemic, according to a CNN tally of figures from the Indian Ministry of Health.
“The volume is humongous,” said Jalil Parkar, a senior pulmonary consultant at the Lilavati Hospital in Mumbai, which had to convert its lobby into an additional Covid ward. “It’s just like a tsunami.”
“Things are out of control,” said Ramanan Laxminarayan, director of the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics and Policy in New Delhi.
“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,” he said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the nation on Tuesday, acknowledging the country’s “very big battle” against Covid-19.
He appealed to states to “use a lockdown as their last option,” even as the capital New Delhi entered its first full day of a week-long lockdown.
On Monday, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal warned that failing to halt movement in the city could lead to “tragedy.”
“We don’t want to take Delhi to a place where patients are lying in hospital corridors and people are dying on roads,” Kejriwal said.
On Tuesday, he warned that some Delhi hospitals were “left with just a few hours of oxygen,” as authorities scrambled to convert sports complexes, banquet halls, hotels and schools into much-needed treatment centers, with the goal to add 6,000 additional beds within days.