A devastating wave of new Covid-19 cases in India, the second most populous nation in the world, has overwhelmed inventories of essential medical supplies, including medicines and oxygen The country’s seven day rolling average of new cases has exceeded 300,000 a day.
One complicating factor is that a great Hindu festival and pilgrimage is now underway: the Kumbh Mela, which involves crowds congregating at the shores of, and taking a dip in, the Ganges. Public health authorities are concerned that this will turn into a superspreader event, at a time when some hospitals are already operating in which look like improvised battlefield conditions. Accordingly, the rate of infections, high as it is, is expected to continue to increase over the next couple of weeks.
Some streets outside of India’s hospitals are crowded with the seriously ill, because the hospitals cannot take them in and the families don’t have any alternative to leaving them there and pleading with hospital officials to any opening. The families have often arranged nascent ERs, including privately secured (very expensive) oxygen, on those streets.
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Other countries are sending urgent aid to India. The United Kingdom has taken the lead in this. Its aid shipment left the mother country on Sunday, April 25, and includes 495 oxygen concentrators, machines for extracting oxygen from the air.