COVID-19 infections and deaths are growing at an alarming rate without an end to the crisis in India and leading experts have warned that nearly 1.4 billion people in the country in the coming weeks will be “horrible”.
The official count of coronavirus cases in India has been more than 20 million, almost doubled in the last three months, and officially 220,000 deaths. On Tuesday, the health ministry reported 357,229 new cases in the last 24 hours and 3,449 deaths from COVID-19.
In the country, people are dying outside the hospital’s distressed homes and funeral pyres that light up the night sky.
Rajesh Bhushan, India’s chief health official, refused to speculate last month on why the authorities were not better prepared. But the cost is clear: people are dying because of poor oxygen and hospital beds or because they have not been able to take the COVID-19 test.
Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the School of Public Health at Brown University in the United States, said he is concerned about Indian politicians who have contacted those who believe things will improve in the coming days.
“I’ve been … trying to tell them, ‘If all goes well, things will be horrible in the coming weeks. And maybe it’ll be a lot longer,'” he said.
Jhak said attention should be paid to “classic” public health measures: specific stops in the area, more testing, wearing a universal mask, and avoiding large gatherings.
“That’s what will break your back fracture,” he said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been criticized for handling the pandemic, which is exacerbating India’s underfunded health care system, leaving hospitals with oxygen and no beds.
The Delhi High Court has said it will start punishing government officials if it does not deliver the supplied oxygen supply to hospitals. “It’s enough,” he said.
Experts are also concerned that the prices charged for COVID-19 vaccines will make it difficult for the poor to be vaccinated. On Monday, opposition parties called on the government to make vaccines free for all Indians.
India is employing about 2.1 million people every day or about 0.15% of the population.
“This is not going to end very soon,” said Dr Ravi Gupta, an expert on the virus at Cambridge University in England. “And really … the soul of the country is in danger somehow.”