Covid-19 situation in India 'beyond heartbreaking': WHO chief Tedros

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GENEVA (AFP) – The World Health Organisation chief voiced alarm Monday (April 26) at India’s record-breaking wave of Covid-19 cases and deaths, saying the organisation was rushing to help address the crisis.

“The situation in India is beyond heartbreaking,” Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters.

His comments came as India battles a catastrophic coronavirus wave that has overwhelmed hospitals and crematoriums working at full capacity.

A surge in recent days has seen patients’ families taking to social media to beg for oxygen supplies and locations of available hospital beds, and has forced the capital New Delhi to extend a week-long lockdown.

“WHO is doing everything we can, providing critical equipment and supplies,” Dr Tedros said.

He said the UN health agency was, among other things, sending “thousands of oxygen concentrators, prefabricated mobile field hospitals and laboratory supplies.”

The WHO also said it had transferred more than 2,600 of its experts from various programmes, including polio and tuberculosis, to work with Indian health authorities to help respond to the pandemic.

The country of 1.3 billion has become the latest hotspot of a pandemic that has killed more than three million people worldwide, even as richer countries take steps towards normality with quickening inoculation programmes.

The US and Britain rushed ventilators and vaccine materials to help India weather the devastating crisis, while a range of other countries also pledged support.

Since the virus that causes Covid-19 first surfaced in China in late 2019, the disease has killed more than 3.1 million people out of at least 147 million infected, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP.

Dr Tedros on Monday lamented that global new case numbers have been rising for the past nine weeks straight.

“To put it in perspective,” he said, “there were almost as many cases globally last week as in the first five months of the pandemic.”

The United States remains the worst-affected country, with some 572,200 deaths and over 32 million infections, followed by Brazil and Mexico.

But India, in fourth place, has in recent days been driving the