SOS calls giving way to obits as COVID-19 rips through India


  • Hospitals face oxygen shortages.
  • Daily new cases cross 300,000-mark
  • Death toll pegged by government at 2,102

Today morning, I woke up to the devastating news of three fellow journalists passing away – all of them young. The trio fought a long battle with COVID-19 but succumbed to the monster virus. Among the three, I knew one personally, and other two through friends.

These three were among 2,102 Indian lives that ceased to exist on Wednesday – its highest number of daily deaths in the country. Browsing through the Twitter timeline, the picture gets murkier. The SOS calls for hospital beds and oxygen cylinders across the country have given way to obituaries, with people losing their near and dear ones.

On Wednesday, the country clocked unprecedented 315,802 fresh COVID-19 cases in a single day – its highest daily caseload since the onset of the pandemic. Incidentally, this also happens to be the worst single-day surge in COVID-19 witnessed by any country since the onset.

Also Read: India’s Rising COVID Cases A Cause of Worry

To put things in perspective, 36% of the cases reported across the globe were from India – at least 16 percentage point more than the share of India in the world population.

And situation does not seem to get better from here. “Nothing seems to improve,” a senior doctor, at the forefront of the coronavirus pandemic, quipped today.

On Wednesday, Max Hospital, one of the largest private sector healthcare providers in the world’s fifth largest economy, was dragged to the court as it was running short of oxygen. While Max may have got the verdict in its favour – but the oxygen supply is able to cater to only the patients who are lucky enough to land a hospital bed. Many others die at home, some at roads, and heartbreakingly, some in the long queues at hospitals – all waiting for oxygen.

Also Read: White House in firefighting mode after pause on J&J jabs

Despite the Indian government liberalising its vaccine allocation policy, it has still been drawing massive criticism for gross mishandling of the fresh wave of the deadly pandemic. Critics have been calling for a stop to all kinds of huge gatherings in the country, including election rallies in the eastern Indian state of West Bengal – where Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party is fighting a neck-and-neck election with Trinamool Congress (TMC) of Mamata Banerjee.

Also Read: Indian markets feel the heat as COVID-19 rattles the country

The situation is having a conspicuous impact on business sentiments across the country. The Indian shares are down about 40 basis points (bps) at the time of filing this copy. On the other hand Indian rupee, which is more sensitive to fluctuations, was down 21 bps – as spooked foreign investors continued to pull out of Indian equities.