Patients forced to share beds in India as cases in Asia surge

NEW DELHI/BANGKOK: India and Thailand reported record daily coronavirus cases yesterday, as a new wave of infections, combined with a shortage of hospital beds and vaccines, threatens to slow recovery from the pandemic.

India breached 200,000 daily infections for the first time yesterday as many hospitals reported shortages of beds and oxygen supplies.

Gasping for air, two men wearing oxygen masks share a bed in a government hospital in India's capital New Delhi.

The 1,500-bed Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital has 300 beds for Covid-19 patients in critical condition.

Even that is not enough. Unrelated patients share beds, while bodies of the recently deceased lie outside the ward before being taken to the mortuary.

The surge was the seventh record daily increase in the last eight days and takes the total caseload to 14.1 million, only second to the US.

Rising infections have also put strain on the healthcare system in Manila and Bangkok.

The Philippines saw many hospitals in its capital region, home to around 13 million people, filling up as cases rise.

Confirmed cases in the last 30 days alone reached 266,489, accounting for 30 per cent of the country's total infections.

Some families of patients have taken to social media to share their ordeals in finding hospitals. Some travelled outside the capital to find a facility, or spent long hours in line.

Thailand reported 1,543 cases yesterday, the sharpest increase since the pandemic started and the fourth record rise this week.

The spike has increased hospital bed occupancy rates as all positive cases have to be admitted under Thai rules. Some 8,973 patients are being treated. - REUTERS