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India on the brink as New Delhi hospitals struggle to cope with surge in cases


The country’s chief minister, Arvind Kejriwal, has said that the speed at which the virus is spreading has led to a shortage of hospitals beds.

Delhi is India’s worst-hit area, with around 73,000 total cases and 2,500 deaths, the BBC reports.

But earlier this month the area’s regional government was accused of under-reporting the number of deaths.

Indeed, five hospitals out of 15 in New Delhi told the Financial Times that their confirmed fatalities as of June 1 exceeded the entire official tally across the New Delhi national capital territory up until that date.

However, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a virtual address a couple of days ago that India was “much better placed than many other nations” to combat Covid-19.

He claimed that the country’s recovery rate was rising and that “India’s deaths per million due to Covid is under 12.”

People in full PPE kit in the back of a vehicle

Hospitals in Delhi are straining under the rate of new infections. (Image: Jewel Samad / AFP / Getty)

Modi added: “To place this in a context, the death rate in Italy is 574 per million. The figures in America, Britain, Spain and France are also much higher than India”.

At the time of writing, India has reported 549,197 total confirmed cases of Covid-19, with 16,487 deaths and 321,774 recoveries, according to Worldometer figures.

The country reported 20,131 new cases of the virus on Saturday – up from 15,915 a week prior.

Delhi is a city of around 20 million people, and cases there have been rising faster than anywhere else in the country.

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woman having a Covid-19 swab test

The region has apparently upped its testing in response to the rise in cases. (Image: Yawar Nazir / Getty)

Chief Minister Kejriwal admitted that the city was “lagging behind” in terms of testing, and that cases have been increasing faster “than we would have expected”.

At the start of this month, India’s lockdown measures were relaxed which put an end to one of the world’s toughest national lockdowns.

As such, most businesses were permitted to reopen, as well as schools – though this latter point was never the case in Delhi.

The lockdown easing also saw increases in road and air traffic, after already wreaking huge economic costs on India and putting millions – including migrant workers with low job security – out of work.


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Delhi high street bustling

India this month emerged from one of the world’s thoughest lockdowns, but cases are rising. (Image: Yawar Nazir / Getty)

Amid accusations of not conducting enough tests to help track and control the spread of the virus, Delhi has announced multiple new measures to address this.

These include door-to-door screenings as well as random sampling across the city.

Plus, the city government has also launched an app – the Delhi Corona App – which provides information on which hospitals or other care centres have available beds.

There have also been reports of makeshift hospitals being set up, including hotels, banquet halls, and even 500 railway carriages.

Indian man opens mouth for Covid-19 swab test

Door-to-door coronavirus screenings are taking place in Delhi to try and slow the virus’ spread. (Image: Xavier Galiana / AFP / Getty)

Meanwhile, lockdown measures were reimposed in the southern Indian city of Chennai as well as three neighbouring areas.

The measures are temporary with an end date already set in sight, but highlight the measures that may be taken around the world to combat what is referred to as a ‘second wave’ in cases.

In Chennai and some surrounding districts, only essential services and grocery shops are allowed to open under the measures that were put in place on June 18.

However, this small lockdown is due to end tomorrow, June 30, putting an end to the 12-day restrictions.

India has a population of over 1.3 billion people. Currently, in terms of confirmed cases, it is behind Russia, Brazil, and the US.


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