India’s deadly COVID-19 surge rooted in crowded super-spreader events

India’s death toll from COVID-19 has surpassed 200,000 as a virus surge sweeps the country, rooted in so-called super-spreader events that were allowed to happen in the months after India thought it had the pandemic under control.

Now India is enduring its darkest chapter yet, with mass funeral pyres, burials and a collapse of the health system compounded by shortages of oxygen, ventilators, and hospital beds.

Read more:
India surpasses 200,000 COVID-19 deaths as health system threatens to collapse

Fueling the catastrophe were a series of crowded events, like mass rallies by politicians such as Prime Minister Narendra Modi, religious holidays and pilgrimages on the River Ganges, where people relaxed their vigilance and didn’t wear masks or keep their social distance.

The health ministry on Wednesday reported 3,293 deaths in the last 24 hours, bringing India’s total fatalities to 201,187. The deaths and the confirmed cases of 17.9 million are thought to be undercounts.

Story continues below advertisement

Now the surge is sending its health system toward collapse. Hospitalizations and deaths have reached record highs. Patients are suffocating because hospitals are using up their oxygen supplies. Fires at overwhelmed crematoriums are lighting up night skies.


In this March 29, 2021, file photo, Indians, their faces smeared with color and glitter, dance as water is sprinkled on them during Holi celebrations in Prayagraj, India.


AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh, File


In this April 24, 2021, file photo, multiple funeral pyres of victims of COVID-19 burn at a ground that has been converted into a crematorium for mass cremation in New Delhi, India.


AP Photo/Altaf Qadri, File


In this March 22, 2020, file photo, people clap from balconies in show of appreciation to health care workers as they observe a 14-hour “people’s curfew” called by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in order to stem the rising coronavirus caseload in Mumbai, India.


AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool, File


In this April 20, 2021, file photo, a man waits for the cremation of a relative who died of COVID-19, placed near bodies of other victims, in New Delhi, India.


AP Photo, File


In this May 20, 2020, file photo, migrant workers from other states line up to board buses for their onward journey by train to their destination in Mumbai, India.


AP Photo/Rajanish Kakade, File


In this April 18, 2020, file photo, Indians stand in a queue to receive food distributed by volunteers during lockdown to prevent the spread of new coronavirus in Hyderabad, India.


AP Photo/Mahesh Kumar A, File


In this Nov. 20, 2020, file photo, Indian women perform rituals standing inside an artificial pond on Chhat Puja festival even as health officials warned about the potential for the coronavirus to spread during the religious festival season, in Mumbai, India.


AP Photo/Rajanish Kakade, File


In this March 7, 2021, file photo, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) supporters wear masks of Prime Minister Narendra Modi as they gather for a rally addressed by Modi ahead of West Bengal state elections in Kolkata, India.


AP Photo/Bikas Das, File


In this April 12, 2021, file photo, a Hindu holy man blows a Conch shell as devotees take holy dips in the Ganges River during Kumbh Mela, or pitcher festival, one of the most sacred pilgrimages in Hinduism, in Haridwar, northern state of Uttarakhand, India.


AP Photo/Karma Sonam, File


In this April 12, 2021, file photo, devotees take holy dips in the Ganges River during Kumbh Mela, or pitcher festival, one of the most sacred pilgrimages in Hinduism, in Haridwar, northern state of Uttarakhand, India.


AP Photo/Karma Sonam, File


In this Dec. 14, 2020, file photo, protesting farmer leaders shout slogans as they sit on a day long hunger strike at the Delhi- Haryana border, outskirts of New Delhi.


AP Photo/Karma Sonam, File


In this April 27, 2020, file photo, health workers attend to a colleague who fainted due to exhaustion and long working hours at a COVID-19 testing center in New Delhi, India.


AP Photo/Manish Swarup, File


In this April 24, 2021, file photo, a COVID-19 patient inside a car, receives oxygen provided by a Gurdwara, a Sikh house of worship, in New Delhi, India.


AP Photo/Altaf Qadri, Fil


In this May 3, 2020, file photo, an Indian Air Force helicopter showers flower petals on the staff of INS Asvini hospital in Mumbai, India. The event was part the Armed Forces’ efforts to thank the workers, including doctors, nurses and police personnel, who have been at the forefront of the country’s battle against the COVID-19 pandemic.


AP Photo/Rajanish Kakade, File

© 2021 The Canadian Press

Latest articles

Related articles