India’s Healthcare System Collapses as Coronavirus Cases Surge


Courtesy of Associated Press (Uncredited Photographer)

Relatives who lost a family member due to the Coronavirus surge are outside Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan hospital in New Delhi on April 21, according to the Associated Press. New Delhi has become a major hotspot during the surge.

India’s Coronavirus cases have surged due to large gatherings after prime minister Narendra Modi reopened the country in early April, according to the New York Times. Hospitalizations and deaths skyrocketed, leading to a shortage of essential supplies such as oxygen and hospital beds. Most affected areas include New Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai, as reported by India Today. 

Junior Shuban Vellamena, who is a part of the Indian community, is concerned about his relatives’ well-being in India as many are in lockdown and have suffered as a result of the surge.

“They’re staying indoors and don’t have contact with anyone else,” Vellamena, whose family resides in Hyderabad, said. “No one really goes outside too much anymore except for things like groceries.”

India’s hospitals are at full capacity, with doctors unable to handle the surge. Only five doctors and nurses are looking after more than 100 people in the hospital as the Indian government plans to draft final-year medical students to fill in the empty positions, according to CNN.

Shortages of beds, shortages of drugs, shortages of oxygen, but perhaps the most pronounced shortage that we saw on the ground was a shortage of medical personnel.

— Clarissa Ward

“The scenes we saw were absolutely harrowing, and they are hard to watch,” CNN Chief International Correspondent Clarissa Ward said in a news segment after visiting a hospital in Uttar Pradesh. “Shortages of beds, shortages of drugs, shortages of oxygen, but perhaps the most pronounced shortage that we saw on the ground was a shortage of medical personnel.”

India set a world record by documenting more than 400,000 cases in a single day on April 30. Other countries, including the United States, have restricted travel from India because of the crisis, yet health experts say it may prove to be ineffective. 

“We can ban all the flights we want, but there is literally zero way we can keep these highly contagious variants out of our country,” Brown University School of Public Health Dean Dr. Ashish Jha said in an interview with ABC News. 

The crisis in India will get worse before it gets under control according to Jha. Until then, Jha said India could see 500,000 cases a day as it grapples with a healthcare system in chaos. 

“India has exorbitant gatherings, to put it lightly. Whenever they gather there’s hundreds of people,” Vellamena said. “There should be more government intervention with [these] gatherings.”