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People in India are dying in the streets amid a catastrophic surge of COVID-19 infections — prompting an oxygen shortage and mass cremations to deal with the overwhelming amount of bodies.
“The virus is swallowing our city’s people like a monster,” said Mamtesh Sharma, an official at the Bhadbhada Vishram Ghat crematorium in Bhopal.
Sharma said the unprecedented crush of bodies has forced them to skip individual ceremonies and rituals that are custom to Hindu tradition.
“We are just burning bodies as they arrive,” Sharma said. “It is as if we are in the middle of a war.”
In some of the hardest-hit cities, bodies were being burnt in makeshift facilities that were running mass crematoriums.
The country’s Health Ministry on Sunday reported another 2,767 fatalities in the past 24 hours, bringing the country’s mounting death count to 192,311.
But the figure is believed to be much higher since suspected cases are not included and many COVID-19 deaths are being attributed to underlying conditions.
Desperate patients are dying in line, sometimes in the road, at the country’s overfilled hospitals as they wait for treatment.
With stretchers in short supply, healthcare workers dragged a body on the ground as they headed for a cremation. The scene played out on the local news station NDTV.
Hospitals in some northern states posted urgent notices saying they were unable to cope with the surge in infections as they began running out of beds and supplies.
“Currently the hospital is in beg-and-borrow mode and it is an extreme crisis situation,” said a spokesman for the Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in the capital, New Delhi.
India’s Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, however, tried to play down the shortages in supplies, saying Saturday that “nobody in the country was left without oxygen.”
The country on Monday ordered its armed forces to help tackle the crisis and said that oxygen would be released to hospitals from its reserves.
Retired medical military personnel would also pitch in at COVID-19 health facilities.
The country, which has a population of 1.3 billion, has an official tally of 17.31 million cases, putting it only behind the US.
For the fourth day in a row on Sunday, the country recorded a global record of daily cases, with 349,691 infections.
With Post wires
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