India’s health system is at risk of being overwhelmed by Covid-19 spread. In Mumbai’s Sion hospital emergency ward there are two people to a bed.
With 52,667 cases, and 1,695 deaths – nearly a quarter of all Covid-19 deaths nationally – the state of Maharashtra, and in particular its biggest city, Mumbai, has emerged as the centre of India’s coronavirus outbreak. According to doctors and officials, the peak began on 6 May, but the curve is showing no signs of flattening, and cases are still doubling every week.
With state-run hospitals quickly running out of beds and keeping symptomatic patients waiting, the Mumbai municipal corporation has raced to convert a series of stadiums and office complexes into coronavirus wards and quarantine centres.
Patients, many with coronavirus symptoms and strapped two to a single oxygen tank, were captured lying almost on top of each other, top-to-toe on shared stretchers or just lying on the floor, in footage shared on social media in India this week.
Mumbai, a city of more than 20 million people, is weeks into the pandemic, but with new cases showing no sign of slowing down the city’s already weak healthcare system appears to be on the brink of collapse.
State hospitals such as Sion, overcrowded in normal times, are overrun. With frontline doctors and nurses falling sick with the virus in their droves, it is also leading to a shortage of medical staff.
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