Friday, June 12, 2020

'Ticking time bomb:' Lack of beds slows Delhi's virus fight

,Associated Press•June 11, 2020

In New Delhi, a sprawling capital region of 46 million and home to some of India's highest concentration of hospitals, a pregnant woman’s death after a frantic hunt for a sickbed was a worrying sign about the country’s ability to cope with a wave of new coronavirus cases.

“She kept begging us to save her life, but we couldn’t do anything,” Shailendra Kumar said, after driving his sister-in-law, Neelam, and her husband for hours, only to be turned away at eight public and private hospitals.

Two and a half months of nationwide lockdown kept numbers of infections relatively low in India. But with restrictions easing in recent weeks, cases have shot up, rising by a record of nearly 10,000 on Thursday, raising questions about whether authorities have done enough to avert catastrophe.

India’s tally has reached 286,579, the fifth highest in the world, with 8,102 deaths. In Delhi, which has reported 32,810 cases including 984 deaths, the rate of infection is higher than the national average, doubling every 12 days.


Private hospitals in Delhi — a wider territory that encompasses New Delhi — report that all of their sickbeds and ventilators are in use. Severely ill people have been turned away from public hospitals, too.


The explosion of cases has made it far more difficult for patients with other life-threatening diseases to receive care, Bhan said, a problem as India enters the monsoon period, which brings malaria, dengue and a host of other mosquito and water-borne diseases.


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