Covid: Grieving families in India fight doctors as beds line up inside crowded hospitals

Shocking scenes outside India’s hospitals highlight the desperation faced by relatives, doctors and patients. ITV News Correspondent Dan Rivers reports

Fights have broken out between doctors and bereaved relatives outside hospitals in India amid a rising surge of coronavirus.

India’s hospitals are running desperately low on vital equipment needed to fight Covid-19, forcing doctors to make tough decisions.

Outside a Delhi hospital, relatives of a 62-year-old woman punched, kicked and hit doctors with bats after they were unable to admit her. She later died due to lack oxygen, as the country’s healthcare system teeters on the brink of collapse.

Chaotic scenes filmed for ITV News inside India’s hospitals show the extent of the country’s Covid crisis. Credit: ITV News

Footage from inside hospitals in India depicts corridors and wards filled with patients, showing the desperation faced by doctors and the ill.

Hospital wards are overflowing with patients, with others forced to wait in the streets, unable to get the medical attention they desperately need. Loved ones overcome with emotion look on, unable to provide the the care they need.

Dr Manish Jangra, from the Federation of All India Medical Association and a doctor in Delhi, said: «It is not the problem of doctors, doctors are doing their best.

«If oxygen is not being supplied to hospitals, is it the fault of doctors? No.»

India has surpassed the bleak milestone of 200,000 recorded Covid-19 deaths, but there are fears the figure could be much higher. Credit: ITV News

The chaos is not just limited to Delhi.

Across India, an estimated 137 people are dying an hour.

The health ministry reported another consecutive single-day record of 3,293 coronavirus deaths in the past 24 hours – bringing India’s total fatalities to 201,187. However experts believe that figure could be twice or five times that amount.

In order to deal with the overwhelming number of deaths, makeshift pyres are burning around the clock for funeral processions.

Such is the devastation that flowerbeds in parks have been converted into places to cremate the dead.

Flowerbeds in India’s parks are being converted into makeshift pyres for funerals. Credit: Ruptly

Gopal Krishna Agarwa, from India’s ruling BJP party, admitted there were «certain gaps» in the country’s response to coronavirus which «could have been done in an improved way».

He said: «In hindsight anyone can say mistakes are made. The central government put up the lockdown and things improved.

«Strong effort by pharmacy industry means vaccines and medicines are being manufactured and the government has offered fiscal stimulus for weaker societal sectors.

«Production of vaccines is continuously increasing. There’s been issues with the international supply chain but these are sorted.

«India will have a fast track approval for vaccines so domestic production and import will be met.»

He added: «We are making friends with countries like UK and UAE. In hindsight some things could’ve have been done in an improved way but ultimately nobody had estimated the extent and issues have cropped up.»

However, medics in India have told ITV News the government and health ministers were not prepared for the rising tide of coronavirus, leaving doctors and medics flat-footed.

Dr Manish Jangra said: «They were not prepared for anything, our health minister used to say ‘we are prepared, we are prepared’.»

«Our prime minister used to say ‘we will fight this corona, we will fight this corona’, and you are seeing the funerals.

«You are seeing many people are dying, dying, dying.»

Help is arriving from overseas, with the UK and other countries sending oxygen, ventilators, vaccines and PPE. The scenes provide a stark reminder about the dangers Covid-19 still possesses to the world and can return with a vengeance.

The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) has extended its coronavirus appeal to include India in order to provide aid and medical supplies to the country as it is gripped by crisis.

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