India’s financial capital Mumbai opened four new coronavirus field hospitals yesterday – including one at a horseracing track – as the nationwide death toll jumped past 20,000.
Hospitals in densely populated cities such as Mumbai and Delhi are struggling to cope with the epidemic, and the country now has around 720,000 infections – the world’s third-highest.
The Mumbai region, which accounts for about a quarter of India’s 20,160 deaths, has suffered a new surge in infections, forcing authorities to build makeshift hospitals and quarantine facilities.
Schools, hotels, a planetarium and a stadium used to host US NBA games last year have all been repurposed, and yesterday four new field hospitals – including 700 beds inside the Mahalaxmi Race Course – were opened.
The new facilities will together provide an extra 3,500 beds in the city of 20mn, where hospitals have been overwhelmed with hundreds of patients each day.
Health workers have complained about severe staff shortages, with some senior doctors and nurses avoiding frontlines because of their vulnerability to the virus due to age or conditions such as diabetes.
“Required medical help will be available at these four new treatment centres,” said a Maharashtra government spokesman.
Of the total fatalities in Maharashtra yesterday, Mumbai alone accounted for 64 deaths.
Tourism Minister Aditya Thackeray said Maharashtra is the first state in the country with a majority of all beds having either ICU or oxygen facilities.
The minister also announced the deployment of robotic technology for the care of patients and security of doctors, nurses and other health staffers, with a robot named ‘Gollar’ joining duty at the Poddar Hospital, giving food, water and medicines to patients there.
Karnataka meanwhile registered 1,498 new positive cases with Bengaluru chiefly contributing to the infections as the state’s tally rose to 26,815, an official said.
For the past several days, Bengaluru is recording the highest number of Covid-19 cases in Karnataka and accounted for 800 or 53% of the cases yesterday.
As the death toll climbs, critics say the country is not testing enough – leaving many infections undiagnosed.
India’s caseload is predicted to pass 1mn this month and not peak for several weeks.
The rate of new infections as well as deaths has been rising at the fastest pace after India started easing its lockdown since mid-May with the resumption of domestic flights and train services and the reopening of offices and marketplaces.
Authorities reopened major monuments across India for visitors from Monday but the world-famous Taj Mahal remained closed.
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