India’s health infrastructure struggles to battle new COVID-19 wave
India’s health infrastructure crumbles amid surging COVID-19 infections in the wake of second wave
India is witnessing a flood of COVID-19 cases in the aftermath of a second wave of novel Coronavirus since last month. The ongoing wave of infections has put India’s already fragile healthcare infrastructure under immense pressure.
With daily cases surpassing 1 lakh, hospitals across India are reporting shortages of critical-care beds, ventilators, oxygen supply, and medicines among other necessary healthcare equipment to treat patients. Stretched beyond their capacities, several hospitals are unable to handle the burden of patients.
The healthcare infrastructure is crumbling in states like Maharashtra, Punjab, Gujarat, and Delhi, with hospitals scrambling to accommodate critically ill patients. In response, local authorities are forced to convert stadiums and banquet sets into temporary hospitals and hotels into quarantine centers to provide assistance to COVID-19 patients.
Recently, the Delhi government dedicated 14 of the leading private hospitals in the national capital exclusively for the treatment of COVID-19 patients. Another 100 private hospitals have been asked to reserve 60 percent of their beds for accomodating COVID-19 patients.
According to reports, hospitals are witnessing new symptoms among COVID-19 patients, such as vomiting, diarrhoea and decrease in Oxygen level as compared to last year. This has led to increased concerns among healthcare officials to provide appropriate treatment to patients.
Hospitals and laboratories are overburdened with COVID-19 testing as results are getting delayed in major cities due to skyrocketing cases. In worst-hit cities like Delhi and Mumbai, hospitals and labs have increased the waiting period for COVID-19 test results to upto three days and more due to the huge backlog of samples. Amid a spike in demand for home testing services, various labs have suspended their home sample collection facilities in view of the prevailing situation. Diagnostic labs are suggesting a rise in the number of people who are testing positive every day.
Furthermore, healthcare workers across states are grappling with Coronavirus infections as medical staff in hospitals are testing positive for the disease while treating patients. Experts are indicating that new variants of COVID-19 and lack of compliance with precautions have resulted in the spiraling of cases. Even as India is among the world’s biggest vaccine manufacturers, some states are reporting shortages of COVID-19 vaccines.
Over the week, various state governments have imposed lockdown-like restrictions and weekend curfews to limit the movement of people and curtail the spread of the virus. Night curfews have been imposed in various parts of Punjab, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat with permission to only a few essential services.
On Thursday, India reported the highest ever daily spike of COVID-19 cases with more than 2 lakh new cases and over 1000 deaths in the past 24 hours.