Prime Minister Narendra Modi will meet top central government officials at 8 pm to discuss the deadly second wave of the coronavirus pandemic and the national vaccination drive.
This will be the Prime Minister’s second Covid-related meet in two days, and third since last week.
On Friday he met senior officials of several ministries and was briefed on the government’s efforts to meet rising demand for medical oxygen to treat critically ill COVID-19 patients. Last week he held a video-conference with the chief ministers of some of the worst-affected states.
Today’s meeting will be held amid a frightening spike in daily cases – over two lakh this morning for the third straight day, over 1.5 lakh per day since April 11 and over a lakh per day since April 7.
The surge in cases has left the country’s already-battered healthcare infrastructure on the verge of collapse, with hospitals overflowing, doctors disillusioned and fatigued, and critical medical equipment – like ventilators and oxygen cylinders in perilously short supply.
Several states, including Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, have red-flagged low oxygen reserves.
Oxygen is desperately needed at hospitals and COVID-19 facilities to help people with advanced COVID-19 symptoms, who are often unable to breathe on their own and could die if not aided.
In others the lack of hospital beds has forced patients to share those available or, as in the case of a facility in Maharashtra’s Pune, led to makeshift wards being set up outside under metal sheets.
Ambulance services have been stretched to the point of breaking, with thousands who’ve either tested positive for COVID-19 or are suspected of carrying the virus, being rushed to hospitals.
In national capital Delhi – the worst-affected city – graveyards and crematoriums are struggling to find or clear space for the long procession of the bodies of those killed by the virus.
Similarly disquieting scenes have been witnessed in Uttar Pradesh’s Lucknow, where discrepancies between the official death toll and the number of bodies at crematoriums has raised eyebrows.
This morning India reported over two lakh new Covid cases – 2.34 lakh, to be precise – for the third straight day.