A man died of Covid-19 in his wife's arms, after she desperately tried to get him help at a hospital in virus-ravaged India.
Renu Singhal, 45, from Agra in Uttar Pradesh did everything she could to save her husband, Ravi.
India has had a surge of Covid-19 cases and in the last three weeks daily deaths have tripled. The overwhelmed health system is struggling under a shortage of hospital beds, medicines and oxygen.
Ms Singhal called several different helpline numbers when she saw her husband's health deteriorate while they were isolating at their home.
None of the helplines responded.
Out of desperation, Ms Singhal hired a cart to take her husband to a hospital to get him help, however, the couple was turned away from four different facilities.
Just outside Sarojini Naidu Medical College (SNMC), Ms Singhal tried to revive her husband by using mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and sprinkling water on him.
"I looked for help but there was no one around who could have wheeled in my husband as he was unable to move," Ms Singhal said.
Despite the devoted wife's efforts, Mr Singhal died in her arms, the cart she transported her husband in was just metres away from the healthcare facility.
India's Covid crisis spirals
On Friday, India's Covid cases grew by 386,452, taking the country's total infections since the start of the pandemic to over 18.7 million, second only to the US.
Also on Friday, the Health Ministry reported 3498 Covid-related deaths in the last 24 hours, taking the total to 208,330.
Battling to find hospital beds, distraught people are flooding social media and messaging apps with heartbreaking pleas for oxygen, medicines and room in intensive care units.
India’s army chief M.M. Naravane met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday to discuss the crisis.
Naravane said the sick can approach their nearest army hospitals for help. Troops were also assisting with imported oxygen tankers and vehicles where specialised skills are required, a government statement said.
In the most populous state of Uttar Pradesh, a school teachers’ organisation said that more than 550 members have died after they were infected with COVID-19 while helping conduct local council elections this month, the Times of India newspaper reported.
Experts have blamed the surge on new, more contagious virus variants and mass public gatherings such as political rallies and religious events that were allowed to continue.
On Thursday, millions voted in state elections in West Bengal with little or no regard to social distancing.
In the southern state of Karnataka, Revenue Minister R. Ashoka said nearly 2000 coronavirus patients under home care have switched off their phones and cannot be traced.
Police were trying to track them as they might be seeking hospitalisation on their own, he said.
In central Madhya Pradesh state, three villages in Balaghat district have pooled money to convert buildings into COVID-19 care centres.
They have purchased oxygen concentrators and started admitting patients. Government doctors are visiting the facilities twice a day.
World sends help to virus-ravaged India
Health Minister Harash Vardhan expressed hope that assistance being sent by over 40 countries will plug the shortage in medical supplies.
The United States is sending more than $100 million worth of items, including 1000 oxygen cylinders, 15 million N95 masks and 1 million rapid diagnostic tests.
Japan said on Friday it will send 300 ventilators and 300 oxygen concentrators in response to the Indian government request. France, Germany and Ireland have also promised help, and Russia sent two aircraft carrying oxygen generating equipment. The Indian air force also airlifted oxygen containers from Singapore, Dubai and Bangkok.
Australia will also be supplying aid.
"The initial package of support includes rapid deployment of 500 non-invasive ventilators, with capacity to deploy up to a total of 3000 ventilators," a press release from the Prime Minister Scott Morrison's office says.
"Our Government is also supplying a significant package of personal protective equipment (PPE), including one million surgical masks, 500,000 P2/N95 masks, 100,000 surgical gowns, 100,000 goggles, 100,000 pairs of gloves and 20,000 face shields.
"The Government has agreed to commence procurement of 100 oxygen concentrators, along with tanks and consumables."
- with Australscope and Associated Press
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