Dispatch from India: A sixth of the world’s population awaits tomorrow with horror

Mahesh Rao in Prospect:

What does a health care catastrophe in a country of almost 1.4bn people sound like? Ambulance sirens wail night and day, phones beep relentlessly with messages of new Covid-positive diagnoses, desperate pleas for help, brief announcements of lives lost. Newscasters on most mainstream channels report on the numbingly grim scenes, but with little analysis and no demands for accountability. This, of course, is the soundtrack for anyone lucky enough to be cloistered at home merely fearing the worst. Others who have to travel to work, or seek medical treatment, will have heard and seen far worse.

India is in the grip of a public health calamity, reporting almost 350,000 coronavirus cases on 25th April, the highest number recorded in one day in any country since the pandemic began. Hospitals have been pushed beyond all capacity; people are dying laid on stretchers in car parks or in stationary ambulances; metal equipment in crematoriums has melted from the sheer number of bodies. Some of India’s finest hospitals have begun announcing on Twitter how long they have before their oxygen supply runs out: two hours, one hour, 30 minutes.

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