Most hospitals in Delhi and many other cities in India have completely run out of beds, forcing people to find ways to get treatment for sick patients at home. But even that is proving to be a difficult task as prices of oxygen cylinders, concentrators and essential medicines have skyrocketed on the black market.
Anshu Priya spent most of her Sunday looking for an oxygen cylinder as her father-in-law’s condition continued to deteriorate. She couldn’t find any hospital bed in Delhi or in its suburb of Noida. Her search for an oxygen cylinder in shops was also futile, forcing her to turn to the black market.
She paid the hefty amount of 50,000 rupees ($670; £480) to procure a cylinder from the black market. It costs 6,000 rupees in normal times.
Her mother-in-law is also struggling to breathe and Anshu is now worried about her. She says she may not be able to afford another cylinder on the black market.
The BBC also called several oxygen cylinder suppliers and most of them asked for at least 10 times more than the normal price.
Her struggle is not unique. Hospitals in many cities, including Delhi, Noida, Lucknow, Allahabad and Indore, have run out of beds, leaving families to rely on makeshift arrangements at home.
The situation is particularly dire in Delhi where there are no ICU beds left. Families, those who can afford it, are hiring nurses and remote consulting a doctor to keep their loved ones breathing.
India has been reporting more than 300,000 cases for days, setting new daily global records. On Monday, it had the highest number of daily coronavirus cases for a fifth straight day, reporting 352,991 new infections and another 2,812 deaths in the previous 24-hour period.
This sharp spike has overwhelmed the healthcare system of many cities, and left no choice for families but to arrange whatever they can at home for their sick loved ones. But the struggles are huge from getting blood tests done to getting a CT scan or x-ray.
Labs are overrun and it’s taking up to three days for test results to come back. This is making it harder for treating doctors to assess the progression of the disease. CT scans are also used by doctors to assess the condition of the patient but it’s taking days to get an appointment.
Doctors say that these delays are putting many patients at risk. RT-PCR tests are also taking days. I know several sick patients who found a bed but couldn’t get admitted as they didn’t have a positive Covid report.