A visual guide to the crisis


Patients outside an Indian hospital

Patients outside an Indian hospital

The devastating second wave of coronavirus in India has overwhelmed hospitals and crematoriums and has seen widespread shortages of oxygen and medicine.

This is a visual guide to what’s happening and what the authorities are doing about it.

There were a record number of cases and deaths

The number of cases and deaths in India continues to grow rapidly, boosted by new variants.

The country recorded a record number of cases on Monday, with five consecutive occurrences and the highest number of deaths per day.

Graph showing the increase in the number of cases and deaths in India.  Updated April 26th.

Graph showing the increase in the number of cases and deaths in India. Updated April 26th.

However, the actual number of cases and deaths is likely to be higher than the number provided by the authorities, and many people have difficulty avoiding or accessing the test. Many deaths in rural areas are also unregistered.

A doctor in Delhi, the capital of India, explained how people are dying on the streets outside the hospital when the country is having a hard time dealing with it.

In total, India has confirmed approximately 17 million infections and 192,000 deaths. Virologists say they expect infection rates to continue to increase for another few weeks.

There are few life-saving emergency beds

In this country, there is a chronic shortage of space in the intensive care unit, forcing families of many patients to drive miles to find a bed for their loved ones.

With a population of about 20 million, hospitals are full and keep new patients away.

Some streets outside the medical facility are crowded with serious illness, and their loved ones are trying to arrange stretchers and oxygen supplies when begging hospital authorities for an internal location.

“We were walking around looking for a bed for three days,” a man told Reuters when his wife was sitting still on the sidewalk.

On Monday, the government announced that military medical infrastructure would be available to civilians and that retired medical military personnel would support at Covid’s medical facility.

Lack of oxygen

Hospitals across India are also experiencing oxygen deficiencies and are desperately in need of supplies, forcing some to put up signs to warn of shortages.

According to the PATH Oxygen Needs Tracker, the country currently has the highest oxygen demand of all other low-income, low- and middle-income countries, and high- and middle-income countries.

Map showing estimated oxygen demand across India's highest, low, middle and high middle income countries

Map showing estimated oxygen demand across India’s highest, low, middle and high middle income countries

Demand is increasing between 6% and 8% daily, according to PATH, an organization that works with global agencies and businesses to address health issues.

A graph showing the increasing oxygen demand in India.  Data up to April 23.

A graph showing the growing demand for oxygen in India. Data up to April 23.

Dr. Harjit Singh Bhatti, who works in the Covid ward at Manipal Hospital in Delhi, explained that he was seeing people breathing out on the street like “fishing out of the water.”

“They aren’t getting oxygen and are dying on the road,” he said.

Medical facilities typically consume about 15% of India’s oxygen supply, leaving the rest for industrial use.

But in India’s second wave, nearly 90% of the country’s oxygen supply (7,500 metric tons per day) is being diverted to health care, said health official Rajesh Bhushan.

The government has launched the “Oxygen Express” to deliver supplies where they are needed. Trains carry tankers where they are in demand. The Indian Air Force also airlifts oxygen from military bases.

Map showing oxygen express route

Map showing oxygen express route

The government has announced that it will release the oxygen supply from reserve forces and has approved plans for more than 500 oxygen production plants nationwide to increase the supply.

The passenger car has become a ward

To address the shortage of beds, Indian authorities are looking at passenger cars that have been converted into isolation wards.

Approximately 4,000 Indian Railways coaches, remodeled in March 2020, are being used again to assist in the treatment of Covid patients with mild to moderate symptoms.

Annotated image of a modified passenger car in India-used as a Covid isolation ward

Annotated image of a modified passenger car in India-used as a Covid isolation ward

Gopal Agarwal, a spokesman for the Bharatiya Janata Party, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, said last year that facilities that were not needed due to strict blockades reduced incidents could provide an additional 64,000 beds. Told to.

Trains that can be driven to city or town stations as needed include patient beds, bathrooms, power points for medical equipment, and oxygen supplies.

Indian Railways already has experience running hospitals by train. Launched in 1991, Lifeline Express travels nationwide to provide patients with diagnostic, medical and surgical treatment.

Sports halls and stadiums have become hospitals

Sports halls, stadiums and ashrams have also been converted into ad hoc treatment centers to relieve pressure on hospitals.

Venus, such as Koramanga Linedore Stadium in Bangalore, Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati, and Radasoami Satzanby Campus in Delhi, have been converted to quarantine centers.

Some of the beds used are made of cardboard.

Cardboard beds at Sardar Patel Covid Care Center

Cardboard beds at Sardar Patel Covid Care Center

During the surge of incidents last year, the Delhi campus of the Radha Soami Satsang Beas organization was transformed into a 10,000-bed Sardar Patel Covid Care Center with 1,000 beds of “oxygen-assisted” beds. He treated more than 11,000 people before closing in February.

This time around, the center, which is the size of 20 football fields, is expected to start at around 2,500 beds and grow to 5,000 beds.

According to Aryan Paper, which uses a cardboard bed base, emergency beds are made of high-strength cardboard.

They are especially useful in the current crisis as they are cheap, recyclable and can be assembled in 5 minutes in easy-to-transport flat packs.

The crematorium organizes a large number of funeral crematoriums

As Indian funerals are overwhelmed, many are forced to look to temporary facilities for mass burials and cremations.

At least one facility in Delhi relies on building firewood in the parking lot to handle the number of bodies.

Unlit funeral crematorium in Delhi, India

Unlit funeral crematorium in Delhi, India

Cremation of funeral in Delhi, India

Cremation of funeral in Delhi, India

Massive cremations are taking place on other sites, and staff are reportedly working day and night in some cities.

Jitender Singh Shunty, head of a non-profit medical service that operates a crematorium in northeastern Delhi, is using the adjacent parking lot to handle an unprecedented number of bodies.

“It’s hard to see,” he said.

In many places, it is reported that there is a shortage of firewood.

Crematorium workers in Delhi

Crematorium workers in Delhi

Jayant Malhotra, who helped at the crematorium in Delhi, told the BBC that he had never seen such a horrific situation.

“I can’t believe we’re in the capital of India. People don’t get oxygen and die like animals.”

By Lucy Rodgers, Dominic Bailey, Ana Lucia Gonzalez, Shadab Nazmi, Becky Dale.

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