More patients than beds in Mumbai as India faces surge in virus cases

More patients than beds in Mumbai as India faces surge in virus cases
  • Clock-gray 08:15
  • calendar-gray 25 May 2020

When Manit Parikh’s mother tested positive for the new coronavirus, she was rushed by ambulance to Mumbai’s private Lilavati Hospital, but officials told the family no critical-care beds were available, APA reports quoting Reuters.

Five hours and dozens of phone calls later the family found a bed for her at the private Bombay Hospital. A day later, on May 18, Parikh’s 92-year-old diabetic grandfather had breathing difficulties at home and was taken to the city’s Breach Candy Hospital, another top private facility, but there were no beds. 

“My dad was pleading with them,” Parikh told Reuters. “They said they didn’t have a bed, not even a normal bed.” Later that day, they found a bed at Bombay Hospital but his grandfather died hours later. His test results showed he was infected with the virus. 

Parikh said he believes the delays contributed to his grandfather’s death. Officials at Lilavati and Bombay Hospital declined to speak with Reuters. Representatives of Breach Candy hospital did not respond to requests for comment. 

For years, India’s booming private hospitals have taken some of the strain off the country’s underfunded and dilapidated public health network, but the ordeal of Parikh’s family suggests that as coronavirus cases explode in India, even private facilities are at risk of being overrun. 

India on Sunday reported 6,767 new coronavirus infections, the country’s biggest one-day increase. Government data shows the number of coronavirus cases in the world’s second-most populous country are doubling every 13 days or so, even as the government begins easing lockdown restrictions. India has reported more than 131,000 infections, including 3,867 deaths. 

“The increasing trend has not gone down,” said Bhramar Mukherjee, a professor of biostatistics and epidemiology at the University of Michigan, referring to India’s cases. “We’ve not seen a flattening of the curve.” 

Mukherjee’s team estimates that between 630,000 and 2.1 million people in India - out of a population of 1.3 billion - will become infected by early July. 

More than a fifth of the country’s coronavirus cases are in Mumbai, India’s financial hub and its most populous city, where the Parikhs struggled to find hospital beds for their infected family members.

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