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Medical student, 26, decides who lives or dies in Delhi hospital

Rohan Aggarwal is one of many final-year students forced to step up amid India's Covid crisis

NEW DELHI Mr Rohan Aggarwal is 26 years old, and will complete his medical training next year.

Yet, at one of the best hospitals in India, he is the one who must decide who will live or die when patients come to him gasping for breath, as their family members beg for mercy.

As India's healthcare system teeters on the verge of collapse during a brutal second wave of the coronavirus, Mr Aggarwal makes those decisions during a 27-hour workday that includes a grim overnight shift in charge of the emergency room at his New Delhi hospital.

Everyone at Holy Family Hospital - patients, relatives and staff - knows there are not enough beds, and not enough oxygen or ventilators to keep everyone who arrives alive.

"Who to be saved, who not to be saved should be decided by God," said Mr Aggarwal, one of many final-year medical students drafted by a desperate Indian government after so many doctors felt the full brunt of the virus.

"We are not made for that - we are just humans. But at this point in time, we are being made to do this."

Deaths in India rose by a record 3,780 during the last 24 hours. Daily infections rose by 382,315 yesterday.

The number has been in excess of 300,000 every day for the past two weeks.

Mr Aggarwal passed his first set of exams when he was 19, and began training at a medical college attached to a government hospital in Delhi. But this wasn't what he expected when he moved to the missionary-founded Holy Family, one of the top hospitals in the country.

"This is really depressing," he said. "I just try my best, but I don't promise anything."

Meanwhile, the Group of Seven (G-7) foreign ministers' meeting in London was hit by a Covid-19 scare yesterday when India's foreign minister and his team said they were self-isolating after two delegation members tested positive. Britain is hosting the three-day meeting - the first such G-7 event in two years.

"Was made aware yesterday evening of exposure to possible Covid positive cases," Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said on Twitter.

"As a measure of abundant caution and also out of consideration for others, I decided to conduct my engagements in the virtual mode."

A British official confirmed the two positive tests. British rules require a 10-day self-isolation period. - REUTERS

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