COVID-19 Outbreak Sweeps Across India
June 13, 2020 (EIRNS)—COVID-19 is leaving an indelible mark on India, whose health and hospital system is teetering under the pressure. “We are very far away from the peak,” said Dr. Nivedita Gupta of the government-run Indian Council of Medical Research. The situation remains particularly dire in India’s largest and most populous cities of Delhi and Mumbai, where state-run hospitals have run out of beds and are turning patients away. Maharashtra, India’s worst-hit state where Mumbai is located, has reported a total of 85,975 cases.
Delhi’s Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said that by current estimates there would be more than half a million COVID-19 cases in the capital alone by the end of July, requiring more than 80,000 hospital beds.
On May 25, India had 144,950 coronavirus-positive cases; by June 12, this has grown to 298,000 cases, a doubling in a mere 18 days, jumping to having the fourth-highest level of coronavirus cases of any nation in the world. So far, 8,711 Indians have died from COVID-19.
At the same time, Reuters reported on June 4 in an article titled “India’s Urban COVID-19 Outbreak Is Morphing into a Rural Health Crisis,” that “Rural parts of India have begun to see a surge in novel coronavirus infections, as millions of migrant workers returning from big cities and industrial hubs bring the virus home with them, according to data collected from seven Indian states.”
Dr. Naman Shah, an epidemiologist and physician advising a federal government coronavirus task force, said that rural outbreaks could be “devastating,” given the inadequate number of doctors and health facilities. “High levels of co-morbidity, high levels of under-nutrition, and a weak health infrastructure, that’s just the recipe for high mortality,” said Shah.
No one knows how far this outbreak will go in a nation of 1.3 billion people, especially if the abovementioned forecast of half a million cases in Delhi by July is accurate.
India is loosening some of its restrictions because it faces the same dilemma as Africa: Workers in the informal economy and migrant workers need to work, or else there may not be food on the table. The need to construct a global health infrastructure system, with all that entails, is apparent.