Slouched in wheelchairs, barely able to keep their eyes open, COVID-19 patients at the district hospital in Maharashtra’s Osmanabad get their oxygen fix while more are wheeled in. Even at barely a minute long, the video clip tells a horror story of what happens when the healthcare system of small-town India gets overwhelmed with more patients than it had ever prepared for.
The Osmanabad district hospital appears to have run out of beds in the cellphone clips recorded by witnesses and so patients are made to sit on chairs as a handful of nurses and doctors do their best to help as many people as possible.
The district, in the southeastern corner of the vast state, reported 681 new cases and seven deaths in the last 24 hours – adding to Maharashtra’s new record of over 63,000 infections on Sunday.
With more than 4,300 active cases, Osmanabad was among the districts flagged on Sunday for issues with its medical oxygen supply along with Pune, Palghar, and Bhandara by teams of experts sent by the central government to audit some of the worst-hit states.
The state – which alone accounts for 48.57 per cent of the total active caseload of the country – was also found to have “sub-optimal” containment operations in several districts. The testing capacity in several districts in the state is overwhelmed, resulting in a delay in reporting test results.
Worst-hit among all states in the country, Maharashtra is under a weekend lockdown till 7 am Monday and has announced curbs like a night curfew through the week.
Battling exploding infection numbers and shortages of vaccines, drugs and hospital beds, the state government is likely to take a call on announcing a complete lockdown this week.
Having let its guard down with mass religious festivals, political rallies and spectators at cricket matches, India is experiencing a ferocious new wave with around 10 lakh new cases in the past week. On Sunday, the country added 1,52,879 new infections.
Maharashtra and nine other states of Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan have shown a steep rise in the daily new COVID-19 cases lately and account for 80.92 per cent of the new infections reported in the last 24 hours, the Union Health Ministry said on Sunday.