India has reported yet another record surge in COVID-19 infections. For the second day running, daily cases have crossed the 2 lakh mark.
Cases have doubled from around 1 lakh last week to 2.17 lakh infections as of yesterday, the only other country to have reported more cases in a single day is the United States where there were 3 lakh daily reported cases early in January.
The death toll is also on the rise with India reporting more than 1,000 deaths for the third straight day. The last 24 hours saw nearly 1,200 deaths, the highest so far since the outbreak of the pandemic. India saw more than 2,000 deaths on June 17 last year but that was due to data reconciliation.
With 27,000 infections in 24 hours, Uttar Pradesh is emerging as a major hotspot. The state has a 7-day average growth rate of over 2 percent which is higher than all states in the country barring Chhattisgarh. Madhya Pradesh is also seeing a major surge in infections.
Despite the rise in cases, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh along with Bihar, Himachal, and West Bengal are lagging behind in testing. The tests conducted in these states are well below the national average.
Uttar Pradesh is also lagging behind on vaccination. While the country has managed to inoculate over 7 percent of the population with one dose of the vaccine, UP has managed to inoculate only about 3.6 percent of its population. Bihar and Assam are also lagging behind along with Tamil Nadu.
Pune has the highest case-load so far with over 1 lakh active cases. Four cities in the top 5 are in Maharashtra barring Bengaluru. But in most of these cities in Maharashtra, the daily case count is high but has also largely stabilised.
Bengaluru has seen a big surge recently with more than 10,000 daily cases. The city is averaging 7 new COVID cases per minute.
Lucknow has an active caseload of over 35,000 infections. In fact, cities in UP like Prayagraj, Varanasi are currently facing more than 10,000 active cases. Gujarat, Ahmedabad has more than 13,200 active cases. Surat has nearly 10,000 active cases as well. And, the state is struggling due a shortage of essential drugs like many other parts of the country.
To take this discussion forward, CNBC-TV18 spoke to Dr. Mrinal Sircar, Dir - Critical Care at Fortis Hospital, Noida, Dr. Jagadish Hiremath, Medical Director at Ace Healthcare, Bengaluru; Dr. Rajesh Parikh, Director - Medical Research at Jaslok Hospital, Mumbai; Dr. Jagdish Khoyani, Centre Head at Wockhardt Hospitals, Rajkot; and Dr. JA Jayalal, National President of Indian Medical Association.
Dr. Mrinal Sircar said, “We are seeing far more patients than we have seen almost ever before. Every hospital is getting flooded with patients and we are facing a similar situation. If many patients need hospitalisation obviously there is pressure on the hospitals. For expanding the beds, you need the bed, the manpower and also the equipment and everything to be running them. Like every other hospital, I presume we are working very hard to try and face this challenge.”
Dr. Rajesh Parikh said, “I have a strong feeling that in the few days we will have to stop referring to it as ‘the virus’ and instead use the plural form because there are several mutant strains of the original virus which are now circulating around the world and in our country as well, each of them as its own distinction features and so we are going to see a larger spectrum of clinical presentation.”
“We are seeing that more children are getting infected and this has happened around the world. While it is an issue of concern it should not surprise us and this is something we should have expected.”
Dr. Jagadish Hiremath said, “For the number of patients who really require hospitalisation and also those who require ICU there is an acute shortage of beds which we are seeing currently. Because of the surge in the cases, along with it there is a huge demand which has been put on the only drug which is used is Remdesivir - we are seeing a shortage of it and also in some instances we have seen some hospitals which have complained of supply chain disruption with regards to oxygen supply - these are the few things which we are actually seeing on the ground.”
For full interview, watch accompanying video...