India prepares for future Covid-19 surge as cases inch up

Infections have started rising again in India and experts warn of another big jump around October. PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW DELHI (REUTERS) - India's health infrastructure proved inadequate when Covid-19 cases surged in April and May this year, leading to tens of thousands of deaths as hospitals ran out of oxygen and beds.

Infections have started rising again and experts warn of another big jump around October, India's peak festival season. Federal and state governments have said that they are more prepared this time round.

Here are some numbers shared by the government in Parliament as at July or early August:

Hospital beds

* Dedicated hospitals to treat Covid-19 patients have increased 27 times to 4,389 since April last year. More than 18,000 other centres have been set up mainly for less-serious patients.

* Oxygen-supported beds rise eightfold to 416,947.

* Total isolation beds jump to 1.8 million from 10,180 in March 2020.

* Intensive care unit beds rise to 124,598 from 2,168 in March 2020.

* Testing capacity jumps to more than two million samples a day from 30,000 in April 2020.

* The Health Ministry has supplied about 45,000 ventilators to government hospitals across the country.

Medical oxygen

* The federal government and its ministries are setting up a total of 1,573 oxygen-generation plants, although fewer than 300 plants had started by early August.

* The total number of medical oxygen carriers has gone up by 225 to 1,244 since March 2020.

Paediatric wards, medicines

* Almost all states are setting up special paediatric wards as experts warn that unvaccinated children could be vulnerable to any new mutations in the virus.

* Some states are also stocking up on antiviral drugs such as Remdesivir.

* India is also trying to vaccinate a big majority of its 944 million adults with at least one dose before another Covid-19 wave. More than 52 per cent of its adults have been partially vaccinated so far.

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