With the number of deaths caused by the novel coronavirus disease continue to mount, India’s top court has expressed outrage over the way the patients are being handled by the hospitals and authorities. “COVID-19 patients are treated worse than animals,” said the Supreme Court, as it issued notices to the central and state governments on the “deplorable condition”, as reported. On Friday, India reported a jump of 10,956 new coronavirus cases and 396 deaths in 24 hours – the highest single day increase so far.
The country’s nationwide caseload has overtaken Britain to became the fourth highest in the world with 297,535 confirmed cases and 8,498 deaths, according to the health ministry. But that is just known cases. Like elsewhere in the world, the actual number of infections is thought to be far higher for a number of reasons including limited testing.
New Delhi’s health centres are under immense strain and the state government’s deputy chief minister, Manish Sisodia, projected a worst-case scenario in which the number of infections in the capital – already at nearly 35,000 – could reach 550,000 by the end of July. Meanwhile, cemeteries and crematoriums in the city say the actual number of deaths could be higher. Hospital morgues are beyond capacity, and with summer temperatures reaching 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Farenheit) some bodies are being kept on thick ice slabs.
“In the beginning, I used to carry only one body. Now, helpers at the morgue will stack as many bodies as they can fit in my van,” said Bhijendra Dhigya, who drives a hearse from one New Delhi hospital to the crematorium. Like elsewhere in the world, the novel coronavirus has made honouring the dead in New Delhi a hurried affair, largely devoid of the rituals that give it meaning for mourners.