India’s coronavirus death toll surpasses China’s

India’s coronavirus death toll overtook neighbouring China’s on Friday, with 175 new deaths recorded in 24 hours taking the total to 4,706, according to data from the health ministry.

The world’s second-most populous nation is emerging as a new hotspot with record jumps in new cases in recent days as hospitals are overwhelmed with patients.

It recorded 7,466 new cases, raising the total number of infections to 165,799, with western Maharashtra state – the financial hub of Mumbai – accounting for 36 percent of cases and 42 percent of deaths.

Nearly a fifth of the country’s coronavirus cases is in the financial hub of Mumbai making it the worst-hit city in the country. There are more patients than hospital beds in the city of 18 million with reports of health officials being overworked.

Patients have been waiting for hours, days even for a bed, shunted from hospital to hospital, with many dying as they waited on a bed.

Video clips shared on social media showed patients sharing beds or lying on the floor and in some cases oxygen cylinders were split at Mumbai’s Sion hospital, which is located close to the densely populated slum of Dharavi.

Authorities fear a spike in cases at Dharavi – which is home to an estimated 700,000 to one million people crammed in a roughly five-square-kilometre area.

Amid reports of a shortage of beds, the city unveiled plans for “jumbo” facilities to ease the strain.

Ashwini Bhide, of Mumbai’s civic corporation, said a 5,000-seater stadium that was converted into a 500-bed quarantine facility last month had “served the city to a huge extent”.

“Hinging upon that experience, new facilities are planned,” Bhide told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Mumbai’s municipal authority last week said it had ordered public officials to take control of at least 100 private hospital beds in all 24 zones in the city to make more beds available for coronavirus patients.

Experts say India’s densely packed cities and its creaking healthcare system are ill-prepared to handle the biggest health crisis of modern times.

The federal government’s data from last year showed there were about 714,000 hospital beds in India, up from about 540,000 in 2009.

Patients have been waiting for hours, days even for a bed, shunted from hospital to hospital, with many dying as they waited on a bed.

AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES

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