MUMBAI: India's lethal Coronavirus death count crossed 2,50,000 on Wednesday in the deadliest 24 hours since the pandemic began, as the disease rampaged through the countryside, leaving families to weep over the dead in rural hospitals. Daily infections are shooting up in the Indian countryside in comparison to big towns, where they have slowed after last month's surge, experts say.
More than half the cases this week in Maharashtra were in rural areas, up from a third a month ago. That share is nearly two-thirds in the most populous, and mainly rural, state of Uttar Pradesh, government data showed.
Television showed images of people weeping over the bodies of loved ones in ramshackle rural hospitals while others camped in wards tending to the sick. A pregnant woman was taking care of her husband who had breathing difficulties in a hospital in Bhagalpur in Bihar, which is seeing a case surge its health system could barely have handled at the best of times.
"There is no doctor here, she sleeps the whole night here, taking care of her husband," the woman's brother told India Today television. In a corridor outside, two sons were wailing over the body of their father, saying repeatedly that he could have been saved if only he had been given a bed in an intensive care unit.
At the general hospital in Bijnor, a town in northern Uttar Pradesh, a woman lay in a cot next to a garbage can and medical waste. "How can someone get treated if the situation is like this?" asked her son, Sudesh Tyagi. "It is a hell out here."
The grim data emerged even as major opposition parties wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, demanding that the Centre take immediate action as the ferocious second wave of Covid rips through the country, leaving hospitals overwhelmed and hundreds of thousands dead. Calling it an "apocalyptic human tragedy", the opposition parties suggested a series of measures that included distribution of free vaccines, a stop to the work on the Central Vista project and a repeal of farm laws.