Once India’s most bustling metropolis, Mumbai is a shadow of a city in haunting images as it struggles under the grip of the country’s spiralling coronavirus crisis.
In the country’s capital New Delhi, empty streets replace once-vibrant scenes, with lone security figures standing guard to impose the city’s strict stay-at-home orders.
The ghostly images stand in contrast to the footage of people begging for oxygen outside hospitals, and families carrying the bodies of their loved ones through the mass cremation sites.
But they all paint a picture of a country suffocating under the weight of the pandemic.
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The escalating situation in India is showing no signs of slowing, with a deadly second wave overwhelming hospitals, morgues and crematoriums.
Over past three days, India has reported more than a million COVID-19 infections, which have subsequently overburdened its healthcare institutions.
Today, the country reported another record jump in cases, with 386,452 new infections and 3,498 more deaths.
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The second wave of infections has seen most hospitals have run out of oxygen, leading to the deaths of thousands of patients.
Desperate family members have turned to social media in the hopes of reaching people with oxygen cylinders, empty hospital beds and critical drugs for their loved ones.
It comes as the World Health Organisation announced that India is dealing with a “double mutant” strain of the virus called B. 1.617.
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According to experts, India’s best hope is to vaccinate its vast population, and on Wednesday it opened registration for all above the age of 18 to receive vaccinations from Saturday.
But, in a cruel twist given it is the world’s biggest producer of vaccines, India does not have the stocks for the estimated 600 million people now eligible for jabs.
As Australians watch in horror from afar over the situation, with the government halting flights from India and announcing support packages carrying crucial PPE and oxygen tanks, another concern looms.
Health experts in India say the recorded death rate may not be reflective of the true number simply because the coronavirus testing regime is completely overwhelmed.
Given the process to get a test alone is under immense pressure, many infections likely aren’t being picked up, and deaths at home are not being properly recorded as COVID-related.
Director of the Centre for Disease Dynamics, Economics and Policy in New Delhi, Ramanan Laxminarayan, told CNN it was “widely known” the case numbers and death toll were being under-reported.
“Last year we estimated that only one in about 30 infections were being caught by testing, so the reported cases are a serious underestimate of true infections,” he said.
“This time, the mortality figures are probably serious underestimates, and what we’re seeing on the ground is many more deaths than what has been officially reported.”