The World Health Organization on Wednesday said that filing “critical gaps” in essential healthcare services should be the first priority as India tackles the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The current rapid surge of Covid-19 cases has put immense pressure on the health systems, already overburdened since the start of the pandemic,” said WHO South-East Asia Regional Director Poonam Khetrapal Singh. “We need to act with speed, expand hospital capacities and equip them with medical supplies, most needed to save lives.”
Singh said that health officials should also stress on rational use of drugs and oxygen supplies to make sure “lifesaving interventions are made available to only to those who need it”. The world health body was procuring mobile field hospitals with a capacity of 20 to 30 beds that could be increased to a maximum of 50 if required, it said.
“WHO is chartering flights to bring in 4,000 oxygen concentrators to help meet the increased demands,” the statement read. More than 2,600 of WHO’s technical staff, which is working on programmes like polio and tuberculosis, had been redirected towards pandemic response in India.
The world health body also highlighted that public fear and concerns must also be addressed with the help of health authorities, partners, media and community-based organisations. “With rapid surge of cases it is important to triage people well to optimise available resources such as ICU beds,” Singh said. “Simultaneously, all efforts need to be made to scale up Covid-19 vaccination coverage.”
India, which is reeling under the second wave of the pandemic, on Wednesday registered a record 3,60,960 new coronavirus cases in a day, taking the total number of infections since the pandemic broke out in January 2020 to 1,79,97,267. This is the highest ever single-day rise in cases reported by any country so far, and the seventh consecutive day when the country has recorded more than 3 lakh cases. For the first time, 3,292 deaths were registered. The toll is now 2,01,187.
Globally, the coronavirus has infected more than 14.8 crore people and killed over 31.31 lakh since the pandemic broke out in December 2019, according to Johns Hopkins University. Over 8.59 crore people have recovered from the infection.