In Ghaziabad, families grieve around pyres laid on footpaths. In Delhi, parks and playgrounds are being converted to crematoriums to accommodate the influx of the dead. In Gujarat, electric furnaces had to be shut down for a few hours after its parts began to melt, having burnt for hours and days without a pause. Fatalities in the second wave of the pandemic have been overwhelming.
The seven-day average of deaths due to COVID-19 in India is more than 2,800, and according to a report by the Hindustan Times, on an average, the number of deaths is rising at a rate of 84% every week. The country’s daily count has been increasing at a rate of over 50%, which is higher than the rate reported in the US during its third wave of the pandemic. There have also been several reports bringing out a huge mismatch in the number of deaths being released by the government and the number of bodies being cremated, which could mean a higher case fatality rate (CFR) than 1.8%. Many deaths are being linked to lack of hospital beds, oxygen supply and timely medical intervention.
News reports show mass cremations, bodies waiting hours for their turn and family members making do with whatever available space for the last rites. In the capital city, after converting parks and playgrounds into crematoriums, the municipal corporations are setting up pyres in parking lots and are still in need of more space.
In such a deluge of crises, vaccination may provide a ray of hope. But only 9.24% of India’s population has received the first dose of vaccination as on April 30, since the launch of the drive on January 16, 2021. Experts have said that vaccination speeds should be accelerated, with one even recommending, by 5x.