Politicians, gangsters and the rich jump India’s COVID queues

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The shortage of oxygen and beds across India is being worsened by well-connected Indians being admitted to hospital unnecessarily, according to the World Health Organization. And while many die in the streets, gangsters, politicians, high court judges and the wealthy are getting treatment, reports The Telegraph.

Indian high court judges have commandeered 100 five-star hotel rooms to be used as an exclusive Covid-19 health facility for them and their families in Delhi.

“Currently, part of the problem is that many people rush to the hospital, also because they do not have access to information or advice, even though home-based care monitoring at home can be managed very safely,” said Tarik Jasarevic, a WHO spokesperson.

There was outrage this week after notoriously well-connected Indian gangster, Chhota Rajan, currently serving a life sentence in a Delhi jail, was admitted to a leading hospital, despite India’s capital officially running out of beds. There were also claims on social media of Indian politicians occupying hospital beds, despite not suffering from severe symptoms.

Meanwhile, India’s official death toll is now pushing towards 200,000, but many states are only recording COVID-19 fatalities if there are no comorbidities. Some estimates put the current daily death toll at 20 times higher than official figures.

Makeshift funeral pyres continued to burn around the clock across India, as the country reported well over 300,000 new infections for the sixth day running.

The manager of a cremation site in Delhi told the Telegraph the actual death toll in the city was seven or eight times the official figures. There were desperate scenes outside one of Delhi’s leading hospitals when family members of a patient who couldn’t be admitted attacked doctors, reportedly injuring many staff. There are also reports of people physically fighting in the city of Meerut to get oxygen cylinders, as they were loaded off vehicles.

As the world began to send aid to the world’s second-most populous nation, Indian officials said they hoped to be given the lion’s share of 60 million Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine doses that the United States will share globally. Despite beginning its vaccination programme in January, India has given two doses to fewer than two per cent of its population.

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