A top scientific adviser to the Indian government on Wednesday warned additional coronavirus surges are “inevitable,” as hospitals plead for supplies amid record high cases and nearly 4,000 new daily deaths.
Experts warn the true figures are likely up to 10 times higher. The World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday said the country accounted for one in four deaths worldwide last week, and nearly half of new COVID-19 infections reported globally.
“A Phase 3 is inevitable given the high levels of circulating virus,” said K. Vijay Raghavan, principal scientific advisor to the government, in a briefing Wednesday. “But it is not clear on what time scale this Phase 3 will occur. Hopefully, incrementally, but we should prepare for new waves.”
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Raghavan said variants are just one factor contributing to the current deadly second wave.
He suggested that the unexpected voracity of the second wave was due to a large proportion of the population vulnerable to infection, relaxed cautionary steps and potential reinfection, albeit less common. Amidst the skyrocketing surge, the country has allowed for mass religious gatherings and political rallies, all while abandoning public health measures meant to stop the spread.
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One hospital chief in New Delhi told NPR it was difficult to walk at times in the overwhelmed emergency room.
“It’s nearly impossible to walk sometimes in the [emergency room],” Dr. Sumit Ray, critical care chief at Holy Family Hospital, told the outlet. “Sometimes we have to keep the patient in the ER for hours, for a day or two, because we don’t have a bed in the wards or in the [intensive care unit].”
Overall, demand for hospital oxygen has increased sevenfold since last month, a government official said, as India scrambles to set up large oxygen plants and transport oxygen. India created a sea bridge on Tuesday to ferry oxygen tankers from Bahrain and Kuwait in the Persian Gulf, officials said.
Fox News’ Alexandria Hein and the Associated Press contributed to this report.