India's daily addition to the Covid-19 caseload has moved from enormous to alarming, with the official number nudging 400,000. Many consider this a conservative figure, given that the cities may not be reporting the full count, let alone what is happening in the vast hinterland. Not since the upheavals of the 1947 Partition of India that saw the birth of Pakistan as a separate nation for Muslims have so many people perished outside of the natural cycle of births and deaths. Many have died gasping for air because of a critical shortage of oxygen supplies. Some have died on pavements or in parked cars, waiting for a hospital bed to be available. Frighteningly, this second virus spread will not peak for weeks.
World Health Organisation chief Tedros Ghebreyesus has said the situation is "beyond heartbreaking". It is also more than an Indian tragedy but is a true global crisis in every dimension. The mutants now active in India include not only the original virus that was first reported from China, but also varieties first seen in Brazil, the United Kingdom and South Africa, aside from one identified in India last October. The Indian B1617 variant, possibly less lethal but apparently more contagious than the UK type, has been detected in Singapore and also Malaysia. No country, not even ones large enough to be self-contained such as China or Australia, can entirely wall itself off from the world. Risk for one is risk for all.