People in India are rushing unnecessarily to hospital, exacerbating a crisis over surging Covid-19 infections caused by mass gatherings, more contagious variants and low vaccination rates, the World Health Organization (WHO) said yesterday.
India's death toll is now pushing towards 200,000, and hospitals that do not have enough oxygen supplies and beds are turning away patients.
Less than 15% of people infected with Covid-19 actually need hospital care and even fewer will need oxygen, WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said.
"Currently, part of the problem is that many people rush to the hospital (also because they do not have access to information/advice), even though home-based care monitoring at home can be managed very safely," Jasarevic said.
Community-level centres should screen and triage patients and provide advice on safe home care, while information is also made available via hotlines or dashboards, he said.
India is also facing severe shortages of medical supplies, with hospitals and crematoriums overwhelmed.
Manish Aggarwal celebrates with weary relief after laying his hands on precious doses of Covid-19 medication for his sick father -- a victory where thousands across India have not been so lucky.
He has been waiting in line outside a small pharmacy in Delhi for eight hours to secure remdesivir, and is rewarded with just two of the recommended six doses.
In the same queue are more than 100 people with loved ones in hospital. Only 30 people receive the medicine. As evening falls and the medical supplier shuts up his shop, some people outside start crying.
"This government has failed us so much that those who can normally survive also die," says an exhausted Vinod Kumar, who has been waiting since 6 am but coudn't get the medicine.