Deaths and desperation in India’s capital as COVID cases rise

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New Delhi, India – A second wave of coronavirus cases in India has seen a record surge in recent weeks, making the South Asian nation the new global epicentre of the virus.

On Tuesday, India reported 1,761 COVID-19 deaths in the past 24 hours – the highest daily toll since the pandemic erupted more than a year ago – and 259,170 new infections.

On Monday, the national capital Delhi saw 240 deaths, the city’s highest since the pandemic began.

Residents in Delhi, which is under a six-day lockdown that began on Monday night, are fighting for hospital beds, oxygen, medicines – and even a place in its many crematoriums and graveyards.

Family members of those deceased due to the coronavirus have to wait for hours to perform the last rites, as crematoriums and burial grounds struggle amid the surge in deaths.

Health experts fear a rapid spread of COVID-19 disease would be devastating in the world’s second-most populous nation with a fragile healthcare system.

India began the world’s biggest vaccination drive in January, but has reported a shortage of shots. Meanwhile, diagnostics firms testing for the virus remain stretched as they struggle to deal with the spike in infections.

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