India’s capital is fast running out of hospital beds amid a surge in coronavirus cases and is struggling to contain the pandemic, after critics said it did too little to prepare and reopened shopping malls and temples too soon.
Some families of people infected with COVID-19 have complained about having to hunt for beds for their relatives after hospitals turned them away.
Others said patients had been left unattended in corridors of government-run hospitals, while local media reports of dead bodies in a hospital lobby prompted the Supreme Court to order the state administration to get its act together.
“I don’t think we expected that cases would rise this much,” said a lawmaker of the Aam Aadmi party that runs the capital, who asked not to be named. “We were so over-confident.”
The office of New Delhi’s Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and the city’s health authorities did not respond to requests for comment.
Less than a month ago, Kejriwal said the city’s hospitals were well equipped to fight the virus as the lockdown had given authorities enough time to prepare. “Delhi will win, corona will lose,” he said.
While Delhi had around 10,000 novel coronavirus cases at that time, the number had jumped to 41,000 on Monday. India’s total numbers stood at 332,424, with Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai fueling the rise in infections.
Cases in the capital are set to surge. The government estimates it will have 550,000 COVID-19 cases by the end of July, around 13 times current numbers, and will require 150,000 beds by then.
On Monday a government mobile app showed that of Delhi’s 9,940 COVID-19 beds, almost 5,500 were occupied. Of the 108 private and public hospitals listed in the app, 25 had no beds available.