Across India mass cremations have been taking place and there country struggles with the world’s highest Covid-19 case count in the world. According to health workers, numerous media reports and several aid agencies, so many people in India have Covid-19, that officials numbers are severely undercounted. That’s because India has a poorer infrastructure, and with so many sick, many are dying in the streets and at home because hospitals have on oxygen or space to accommodate more sick patients. The official Covid-19 count is 17.6 million, but that only includes patients tested in a hospital. "It's widely known that both the case numbers and the mortality figures are undercounts, they always have been," said Ramanan Laxminarayan, director of the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics and Policy in New Delhi.
Aid from around the world has started arriving into India, including from the country’s arch-rival, Pakistan, which has already begun sending ventilators, oxygen concentrators, PPE, and medicines. There acute oxygen shortage in India has been the main culprit for so many Covid-19 deaths as compared to the total number of Covid-19 cases, or the death ratio. Ironically, India produces far more oxygen than it needs, in fact only about 5% of the oxygen it makes goes towards medical purposes. The real struggle has been getting that oxygen from where it is produced to the hospitals and health clinics across the subcontinent.
The rise in deaths has caused cremation ceremonies to exceed demand capacity forcing families to cremate loved ones in the streets and in mass cremation centers. “While India has increased its capacity to do more testing, it is still far short of what is needed. For every 1 patient in a hospital, we can see as many as 30 more on the streets being refused entry because the hospital is full.” Laxminarayn went on to say the death toll is predicted to go as high as 13,000 per day.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) chief scientist Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, India is testing about two million people per day, far above its half a million per day during the first wave, but still not nearly enough. The national positivity rate is 15%, but in urban cities like Delhi and Mumbai, it is 30% or higher. The total number of cases is estimated to have reached 529 million when including not just those in a hospital but those suffering on the street and in their homes.