An Indian doctor on the Covid frontline has shared as harrowing photo showing him drenched in sweat, as the country becomes first in the world to record 400,000 cases in a day.
Dr Sohil Makwana posted two images – one of him covered in wet PPE and another of him standing in a soaked salmon-coloured shirt – as a reminder of the intense strain health staff are under.
But the doctor insisted he was ‘proud to serve the nation’, as the country hit a grim milestone of cases in its desperate battle to keep the virus under control.
In a follow-up tweet, he wrote: ‘Talking on the behalf of all doctors and health workers.. we are really working hard away from our family.. sometimes a foot away from positive patient, sometimes an inch away from critically ill oldies… I request please go for vaccination.. it’s only solution! Stay safe.’
The image clearly resonated with many, as it was retweeted nearly 17,000 times and received more than 132,000 likes on the social media site.
It comes as India posted a record daily rise of 401,993 new coronavirus cases overnight, while Australia is imposing a ban on its citizens returning from the south Asian country, with potential penalties including five years in jail.
Dr Sohil Makwana posted two images – one of him covered in wet PPE and another of him standing in a soaked salmon-coloured shirt – as a reminder of the intense strain health staff are under
A health worker wearing a personal protective equipment (PPE) suit cleans the floor inside a banquet hall temporarily converted into a Covid-19 coronavirus ward in New Delhi
Health workers wearing a personal protective equipment (PPE) suits attend patients inside a banquet hall temporarily converted into a Covid-19 coronavirus ward in New Delhi
The country has a limited number of shots available domestically, worsening a grim second wave of infections that has left hospitals and morgues overflowing while families scramble for increasingly scarce medicines and oxygen
At least 18 people, including two healthcare workers, were killed in a fire at a COVID-19 hospital in the western Indian state of Gujarat
The blaze started around midnight in the intensive care ward of the Patel Welfare Hospital, a designated COVID-19 facility, in Bharuch city, 115 miles (185 km) north of state’s main commercial city, Ahmedabad
People stand around the Welfare Hospital after a deadly fire in Bharuch, western India
A sign reading ‘New Covid Centre, Welfare Hospital Bharuch & Research Centre’ is seen at a the hospital, which was treating Covid patients
Another 386,452 infections and 3,498 deaths were officially recorded on Friday – but medics have warned the true figures could be ten times greater, putting daily infections at 3 million and fatalities at 30,000.
The percentage change in daily Covid infections by Indian state on April 25 compared to at their peak, most of which were recorded last year. States which have surpassed their peak infection rates by more than 300 per cent include Ladakh in the far north, Gujurat and Rajsthan in the west, Uttar Pradesh in the northeast and Chhattisgarh in the central eastern part of the country. Andra Pradesh in the east and the cluster of states in the far northeast of the country remain below their peaks of the first wave, suggesting that they may yet have another wave to live through
India, the world’s biggest producer of jabs, had now stepped up its vaccination drive to include all adults, although several states have warned of acute shortages.
The country has a limited number of shots available domestically, worsening a grim second wave of infections that has left hospitals and morgues overflowing while families scramble for increasingly scarce medicines and oxygen.
‘We hope that we will get vaccines tomorrow or the day after … I ask you to please not queue up at vaccination centres on Saturday,’ the Chief Minister of the hard-hit state of Delhi, said on Friday.
Hundreds of people were seen queuing across Ahmedabad, the main commercial city in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state of Gujarat to get vaccinated.
Then last night, at least 18 people, including two healthcare workers, were killed in a fire at a COVID-19 hospital in the western Indian state of Gujarat.
The blaze started around midnight in the intensive care ward of the Patel Welfare Hospital, a designated COVID-19 facility, in Bharuch city, 115 miles (185 km) north of state’s main commercial city, Ahmedabad.
‘Sixteen patients and two staff members have died in the fire. Twelve of them died due to fire and smoke,’ said R.V. Chudasama, a superintendent of police in Bharuch.
‘Preliminary investigation shows the fire was caused because of a short circuit,’ he said.
Local news channels showed footage of a hospital ward completely destroyed in the fire.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a tweet he was ‘pained by the loss of lives due to a fire at a hospital in Bharuch.’
India’s healthcare system is struggling to cope with the coronavirus crisis, which has killed 211,853 people and infected more than 19 million, according to health ministry data on Saturday.
A dozen people were reported killed after a fire in a hospital treating COVID-19 patients in a suburb of Mumbai on April 23.
Earlier 22 patients died at a public hospital in Maharashtra where Mumbai is located when oxygen supplies ran out due to a leaking tank.
A man wearing PPE performs the last rites of a deceased relative in a disused granite quarry repurposed to cremate the Covid dead in India
A crane places new biers in an area used to cremate the dead in India. A variant is wreaking havoc across the country and overwhelming crematoriums
A mourner wearing Personal Protective Equipment waits to perform the last rites of a deceased relative in Bengaluru, India
A worker is seen turning over the funeral pyres at a crematorium in Delhi last night. The country of 1.4 billion is in the eye of the world’s Covid storm, with funeral pyres burning around the clock in Delhi and Mumbai and hospitals under armed guard to protect oxygen supplies.
Meanwhile, actor Arjun Gowda, star of movies such as Yuvarathnaa and Odeya, has used a break in his filming schedule to volunteer as an ambulance driver to help those in need.
He set up Project Smile Trust, which aims to reach out to those left completely stranded by the pandemic.
He told Times of India: ‘We want to ensure that we help out anyone in need irrespective of where they come from or what religion they practice. I’m also ready to travel across town for help.
‘I ended up taking someone who lives in Kengeri all the way to Whitefield to get them admitted in the hospital.
‘I plan on continuing with this help for the next couple of months as the current situation is quite back and I want to do my bit to people in whatever little way that I can.’
It comes after it emerged yesterday that an Indian woman died after police were accused of taking her oxygen cylinder away to give to a VIP amid acute shortages and a health system overwhelmed by the world’s fastest growing Covid outbreak.
Video circulated on social media shows a man crying and begging officers on his hands and knees outside a private hospital in the city of Agra in Uttar Pradesh.
‘My mother will die if you take away her oxygen cylinder,’ Anmol Goyal, 22, told the police as the cylinder was carried out of the hospital on Tuesday night.
He and his 17-year-old brother had sourced the oxygen themselves after the hospital ran out, bringing it to the Covid ward and placing it by their mother’s bed.
But the cylinder was confiscated by the police for someone deemed to be more important, according to The Times of India correspondent who shared the video on social media.
Two hours later the Goyals’ mother died.
Video circulated on social media shows a man crying and begging officers on his hands and knees outside a private hospital in the city of Agra in Uttar Pradesh. ‘My mother will die if you take away her oxygen cylinder,’ Anmol Goyal, 22, pleaded with officers as the cylinder was carried out of the hospital on Tuesday night. Agra Police have vehemently denied the claims, saying: ‘It was an empty cylinder being taken away from the hospital for refilling.’
An ambulance overburdened with Covid victims in Maharashtra state is the latest grim evidence of the carnage unfolding throughout the country of 1.4 billion as a new mutation of the virus rips through the population. Police officers reportedly snatched the phones out of people’s hands as they tried to photograph the ambulance, its suspension sagging under the weight of the dead, outside a morgue in the city of Beed on Friday. Beed district chief Ravindra Jagtap vowed to punish those responsible, but added that there are just two ambulances to carry the dead to the city’s crematorium and more were needed.
Police pose with alleged Covid thieves outside a police station in west Delhi. Oxygen cylinders are being sold on the black market for more than £1,000, compared to the pre-pandemic price of around £60.
Relatives wearing personal protective equipment lower the body a Covid victim into a grave at a cemetery in Delhi on Friday
A family member performs the last rites at a crematorium in Jammu, northern India, on Friday. The army opened up hospitals today as PM Narendra Modi seeks to avoid a humanitarian crisis
Health workers install oxygen cylinders for COVID-19 patients at a makeshift hospital in the Indian capital on Friday. Delhi is recording roughly 25,000 new cases each day, but the true figure is believed to be as much as ten times greater
A municipal worker wearing a face mask uses a fumigation spray machine near a vaccination centre in Mumbai on Friday
Beds are prepared inside an emergency Covid centre which is preparing to open in Mumbai amid a colossal surge in cases which has overrun hospitals in the city of 12 million residents
Agra Police have vehemently denied the claims, saying: ‘It was an empty cylinder being taken away from the hospital for refilling.’
India is in the eye of the world’s Covid storm, with funeral pyres burning around the clock in Delhi and Mumbai and hospitals under armed guard to protect oxygen supplies.
Despite emergency medical gear arriving from Britain and the United States, including a USAF cargo jet with 400 oxygen cylinders on Friday, there remains an acute shortage of oxygen, medicines and beds across India.
People are dying in the streets and on stretchers outside the overcrowded hospitals, while lucrative Indian Premier League cricket matches are played just a few hundred yards away.
The league attracts many star players from Australia, whose officials have now put an unprecedented ban on citizens returning from India.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has defended the policy today, despite the move being blasted as ‘horrifying’ and ‘outrageous’.
The federal government made made it illegal to fly home from India under threat of five years in jail and fines of $66,600.
Health Minister Greg Hunt announced the draconian restriction today, which will begin at 12.01am on Monday.
Mr Frydenberg stood by the the government’s decision, saying Prime Minister Scott Morrison acted on medical advice.
‘We have taken drastic action to keep Australians safe, and what we face in India is a very serious situation where the medical advice provided to the federal government has been to put in place these strict measures,’ he said on Sunday.
Asked if it was irresponsible then to leave Australians there and effectively lock them out of their own country, Mr Frydenberg said the measure was drastic but temporary.
‘The best thing we can do is get supplies into India, which is what we’re doing – ventilators, masks, other PPE equipment,’ he told reporters.
‘We’re doing everything we can to support India at this very difficult time (but) we’ve also got to protect Australians.’
Labor backed the flight ban as the ‘right call’ but suggested criminalising citizens for trying to return is another story.
Senior Labor MP Jason Clare told the ABC the flight ban was ‘the right call’ based on health advice, however criminalising citizens for trying to return was another story
‘It’d be a big call to make it a crime for Australians trying to get home … what we should be doing is trying to make it easier.’
‘We charted a flight to Wuhan (in China) to get Aussies out and took them to Christmas Island.’
‘Why aren’t we doing that now?’