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Countries Pledge Aid as COVID-19 Overwhelms Hospitals in India

India has become the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic and its health system is collapsing.

Countries Pledge Aid as COVID-19 Overwhelms Hospitals in India
A swab collection center in Guwahati, India D. Talukdar/iStock

The second wave is hitting countries around the world hard, and India, with a 1.4 billion population, is one of them as its health system sinks beneath the growing weight of infections.

The country reported nearly 350,000 new infections and 2,767 deaths on Sunday, recording a new global high for daily coronavirus cases for five consecutive days straight at 352,991 on Monday, according to BBC.

Hospitals swamped by coronavirus

These grim numbers are devastating, yet many people fear that case numbers might be undercounted since hospitals are overrun and a shortage of test kits is plaguing the cities.

This sudden spike in the case numbers has caught the country off guard. Previously, the numbers were at record lows in late January and early February this year. After the restrictions were relaxed, the pandemic hit back hard, with cases and deaths skyrocketing across the country, NPR reports.

Now, hospitals in many cities have run out of beds, crematoriums are running day and night, and there is a shortage of oxygen, hospital beds, and medicine.

Recently, on April 21, 22 COVID-19 patients died in a hospital when their oxygen supply was cut short due to a leakage in a supply tank, according to an AP report.

A black market for vital supplies

There is also the shortage of essential drugs, oxygen cylinders, and concentrators leading people to the black market. Not only the medicines on the black market have questionable origins, but their prices have also skyrocketed.

Since most people who live in India cannot afford such prices, a catastrophe is unfolding in Indian hospitals: in Delhi, there are no ICU beds left, BBC reports, and test results take up to three days to come back since labs are overrun.

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Urgent supplies are needed to stop the rampant spread of infections in India, and countries such as Britain, Germany, and the United States have pledged to send urgent medical aid, Reuters reports.

As the U.S. prepares to make more medical aid available to India, U.S. President Joe Biden said in a tweet, "Just as India sent assistance to the United States as our hospitals were strained early in the pandemic, we are determined to help India in its time of need."

According to the statements, military medical infrastructure will be made available to civilians where possible.

The government's COVID-19 response 

On the other hand, Twitter has taken down tweets that criticized the handling of the pandemic in India according to the Indian government's request. It was previously reported that many blamed Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government for being unprepared to handle the pandemic. Some even called for his resignation.

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An emergency order on Friday to remove 52 tweets was sent, and the tweets belonged to accounts of a member of India's Parliament, two filmmakers, an actor, and a West Bengal state minister, as first reported by the Indian news site MediaNama and later by CNET

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