For the past two weeks, the global community gasped at the free-falling health condition in the world’s second most populous country. Images and videos coming out of the country have been telling stories of patients having to share hospital beds, overwhelmed crematorium leading people to burn the deceased on the streets, and relatives ferrying their loved-ones from one hospital to another in an often-fruitless quest of seeking life-saving oxygen.
On April 26, after kept breaking records on COVID-19 infections for days, India registered more than 350,000 new cases, surpassing the global highest single-day figure set by itself.
How did this happen? First Voice analyzed various media reports to offer a synthesized look at the situation.
In Haridwar, a temple town that this year hosts the Kumbh Mela, an intermittent Hindu festival that is the world’s biggest religious gathering, between 1m and 3m people shoved and jostled to take a ritual dip in the Ganges. And across the country, the number of people testing positive for covid-19 for the first time surpassed 200,000 in a single day. It has continued to surge since, reaching 315,000 just one week later—the highest daily figure in any country at any point during the pandemic. Deaths, too, are beginning to soar, and suspicions abound that the grisly official toll is itself a massive underestimate. Makeshift pyres are being constructed on pavements outside crematoriums to deal with the influx of bodies.
This horrifying second wave is a catastrophe not only for India but for the world. Allowing the virus to circulate unchecked increases the risk that dangerous new strains will emerge. One worrying variant first detected in India, called the “double mutant”, has already been found in several other countries, including America and Britain.
Even as scientists labour to understand how big a threat it poses, more variants are appearing.