There are devastating images from India today amid growing concerns over the dramatic increase in coronavirus cases in the country and the emergence of a new variant of the virus.
On Thursday, the country recorded the highest single-day number of new Covid-19 cases in the world – and the highest number of deaths in a 24-hour period. It has nearly 16 million confirmed cases, second only to the US.
Pictures from across the country show hospitals being overwhelmed as crowds form, oxygen levels are running low, and people are waiting to collect the bodies of their loved ones. In some places, including in the parking lot of a crematorium in Delhi, emergency pyrene had to be built as they had difficulty coping with the incoming numbers.
Oxygen supply was a particular concern as a number of hospitals in the capital Delhi went down completely on Thursday, according to the city’s deputy prime minister Manish Sisodia.
(Image: Getty Images)
(Image: Getty Images)
A large number of hospitals report acute shortages of beds and medicines and have dangerously low levels of oxygen.
The New Delhi High Court ordered the government to divert industrial oxygen to hospitals to save people’s lives.
“You can’t let people die because there’s no oxygen. Begging, borrowing or stealing, it’s a national emergency,” the judges replied to a petition from a New Delhi hospital asking the court to intervene.
The government is pushing for oxygen tankers to replenish supplies to hospitals.
Passengers flying to the UK from India will now have to enter hotel quarantine as the country has officially been added to the UK’s coronavirus travel red list.
In scenes repeated across the country, ambulances rush from hospital to hospital trying to find an empty bed as grieving relatives line up outside crematoriums where the number of bodies has risen multiple times.
Starting at 4 a.m. on Friday, people returning from India must be quarantined at a government approved hotel for 10 days. Non-UK or Irish residents or UK citizens will be banned from entry if they have been in India for the past 10 days.
Four airlines asked for a total of eight additional flights to arrive at Heathrow before the 4am cut-off. However, it is believed that Heathrow has denied the airlines’ requests to ensure that existing pressures at the border are not increased.
The restrictions are due to increasing concerns about the number of coronavirus cases in India and the emergence of a variant of the virus.
The variant – also known as B.1.617 – was first announced internationally in October and first identified in the UK on February 22nd.
It has 13 mutations, including two in the virus’ spike protein known as E494Q and L452R.
Public Health England (PHE) announced Thursday that 55 cases of the Indian variant had been found in the UK in the week leading up to April 14. Eight cases have been reported in Wales.
Health professionals are currently unsure whether either of the mutations means the variant is more easily transmitted, more deadly, or may elude vaccine effectiveness or natural immunity.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson had to cancel a trip to India on Monday as the country struggles to cope with the dramatic increase in cases.