Amid the steep rise in COVID infections in India, the World Health Organization chief voiced alarm on Monday at the country’s record-breaking wave of COVID cases and deaths, saying the organisation was rushing to help address the crisis.
“The situation in India is beyond heartbreaking,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters.
He spoke as India battles a catastrophic coronavirus wave that has overwhelmed hospitals, with crematoriums working at full capacity.
A surge in recent days has seen patients’ families taking to social media to beg for oxygen supplies and locations of available hospital beds, and has forced the capital New Delhi to extend a week-long lockdown.
“WHO is doing everything we can, providing critical equipment and supplies,” Tedros said.
He said the UN health agency was among other things sending “thousands of oxygen concentrators, prefabricated mobile field hospitals and laboratory supplies”.
The WHO also said it had transferred more than 2,600 of its experts from various programmes, including polio and tuberculosis, to work with Indian health authorities to help respond to the pandemic.
The country of 1.3 billion has become the latest hotspot of a pandemic that has killed more than three million people worldwide, even as richer countries take steps towards normality with accelerating vaccination programmes.
Active cases in the ongoing second COVID-19 wave in India may peak at 38-48 lakh between May 14-18 and daily new infections could hit a high of 4.4 lakh from May 4-8, according to a mathematical model by IIT scientists who have revised their projections upwards.
India on Monday saw a single-day rise of 3,52,991 (3.52 lakh) COVID-19 infections and 2,812 fatalities with 28,13,658 (28.13 lakh) active cases.