India topped 320,000 new cases of coronavirus infections this week.
According to the Associated Press, the new infections brought the country’s total to just over 17.6 million and came after a five-day streak of recording the largest increases in a single day in any country during the pandemic.
The health ministry also reported that some 115 Indians die from the infection every hour. In total, India’s death toll is at about 197,894, behind the U.S., Brazil and Mexico.
“Many countries are still experiencing intense transmission, and the situation in India is beyond heartbreaking,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the World Health Organization.
India has primarily relied on foreign support for health care during the pandemic. This week, Foreign Ministry spokesman Arindam Bauchi tweeted photos of the first shipment of medical aid the country has received from Britain. The shipment included 100 ventilators and 95 oxygen concentrators.
Other countries have also promised medical aid, such as treatments, diagnostic tests and other protective gear. Officials from France said they are planning on sending ICU gear and eight oxygen generators later this week. The U.S. said it was planning to share raw materials for the AstraZeneca vaccine to India. White House COVID-19 coordinator Jeff Zients also told The Associated Press that the White House is working on also sending oxygen supplies and personal protective equipment.
Experts say India is facing a critical shortage of space in intensive care areas for the sick. In some areas, officials are using train carriages as isolation wards. The country has nearly 1.4 billion people.
“It’s time people start wearing masks inside their homes as well,” said Dr. V.K. Paul, the head of a government committee on medical emergency preparedness.
India’s chief of Defense Staff, Gen. Bipin Rawat, said he plans to send oxygen supplies from the reserves and call on retired medical personnel to help at health facilities.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Anindito Mukherjee/Stringer
Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.