As the supply of vaccines and antiviral drugs is speeding up across the world, India is quickly descending into the epicenter of the Covid pandemic. Recently, it reported the highest-ever count of daily cases in the world – over 314,835 new cases – and its highest-ever daily death rates.
India is currently the second country with the most infections – behind only the U.S., which was the previous holder of the all-time high daily case counts with 297,430 cases posted in January.
The second deadlier wave is giving rise to scenes of crowds gathering outside hospitals which have been overcrowded inside. The country’s health system, which was already struggling to keep up with the first wave, appears to be crumbling under the pressure of the rapidly rising cases.
Dramatic scenes are also unfolding around funeral homes, with families having to wait in angst for long hours to perform funeral rites. Some crematoriums are even converting car parks and other parts of their premises to pyre areas.
A combination of relaxed social distancing protocols, heavily crowded Hindu festivals, and fast-spreading variants of the virus (including a double mutant strain) has created a perfect storm for a second wave of infections that seems to be spiraling out of control.
Critics of the government lay the blame of the new wave directly on their feet. The ruling party – including Prime Minister Modi himself – organized massive rallies across the state of West Bengal, which has been holding several rounds of elections in recent weeks.
But the government has defended its lax approach in recent times and their efforts so far in stemming the spread of the virus. It says that rather than implement strict nationwide measures like it did last year, it is instead leaving it up to the states and local districts to devise befitting measures for themselves.
Meanwhile, many countries are growing alarmed by the rapid rise in daily cases in India. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced a significant limit on the number of flights between the two countries. The U.K has also placed restrictions on trips to and from India and are lodging arrivals in hotel quarantine.