NEW DELHI: Fighting his weight, Shayam Narayan’s brothers transport him from a rickshaw to a hospital cart in India’s capital, New Delhi.
Only a few minutes pass before they receive the news: he is already dead.
Narayan is one of the latest victims of a second wave of coronavirus sweeping India. His brothers brought him to the hospital for the first time at 6 am on Friday. But they said the team considered him well enough to return home.
Ten hours later, with their condition getting worse, they returned. But it was too late to save him.
“The system is broken,” said his younger brother, Raj.
Narayan, who had five children, died without being admitted to the hospital or taken to the morgue, meaning that his death is unlikely to be officially counted in the city’s increase in casualties.
For the second consecutive day, the number of nighttime infections in the country was higher than any recorded anywhere in the world since the pandemic started last year, at 332,730.
About 2,263 died, with more than 300 of them in Delhi alone – numbers that are almost certainly conservative.
The Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital, in the north-east of the capital of India, is one of many that struggle with a lack of oxygen and a lack of space. Patients die in carts outside, like Narayan.
The hospital’s medical superintendent was not immediately available for comment.
“Due to an exponential increase in the Covid-19 cases in Delhi, all hospitals are overloaded,” said a spokesman for the Delhi government.
“At the GTB Hospital, patients arrive by ambulance despite the unavailability of beds. Despite this, the government is doing its best to give all patients treatment at one or the other center. “
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The government hospital’s 400 Covid intensive care beds are also occupied, according to official data.
But that does not prevent patients from gasping for air arriving every few minutes in ambulances and auto rickshaws.
Half a dozen wait for hours in carts to be admitted. Others, like Narayan, die before they are even admitted.
“The team is doing the best it can, but there is not enough oxygen,” said Tushar Maurya, whose mother is being treated at the hospital.
After being denied entry to the ICU, a man reels when trying to return to an auto-rickshaw. Minutes later, he returns unconscious. Loaded on a stretcher, his arm slams against the ICU door while a guard watches.
Another man writhes in pain in the back of an ambulance, alone, as she steps forward with the rear doors open. The oxygen cylinder of a third man lying in the sun runs out, and his family runs to change it.
Images from inside the wards seen by Reuters showed some patients sitting two on a bed and barely enough space for others to stand.
“They are like cattle in there,” said a man after leaving.
Despite the lack of beds, many feel they have no choice but to show up after being denied entry to other overburdened Covid hospitals, begging staff to intern their loved ones.
Currently, an online panel indicates that only 22 ICU beds are available in Delhi out of more than 4,500.
“We have been wandering for three days in search of a bed,” said a man who identified himself as Irfan, whose wife was motionless on the sidewalk.