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SOS messages, panic as virus breaks India’s health system

April 27, 2021 11:54 am
Family members of a person who died due to COVID-19 perform the last rites at a crematorium in Jammu, India. [Source: The Associated Press]

Dr Gautam Singh dreads the daily advent of the ventilator beeps, signalling that oxygen levels are critically low, and hearing his desperately ill patients start gasping for air in the New Delhi emergency ward where he works.

Like other doctors across India, which on Monday set another record for new coronavirus infections for the fifth day in a row at more than 350,000, the cardiologist has taken to begging and borrowing cylinders of oxygen just to keep patients alive for one more day.

On Sunday evening, when the oxygen supplies of other nearby hospitals were also near empty, the desperate 43-year-old took to social media, posting an impassioned video plea on Twitter.

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India was initially seen as a success story in weathering the pandemic, but the virus is now racing through its population of nearly 1.4 billion, and systems are beginning to collapse.

SOS messages like the one Singh sent reveals the extent of the panic.

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