Trainee Indian Doctors Pulled from Exams to Fight World’s Biggest Covid Surge

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A doctor checks an X-ray of a patient suffering from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) inside a COVID-19 ward of a hospital in New Delhi, on May 1, 2021. — Reuters

Medical experts say actual numbers in India could be five to 10 times higher than those reported.

NEW DELHI — India postponed exams for trainee doctors and nurses on Monday, freeing them up to fight the world’s biggest surge in coronavirus infections, as the health system crumbles under the weight of new cases and hospitals run out of beds and oxygen.

The total number of infections so far rose to just short of 20 million, propelled by a 12th straight day of more than 300,000 new cases in a pandemic sparked by a virus first identified in central China at the end of 2019.

Medical experts say actual numbers in India could be five to 10 times higher than those reported.

Hospitals have filled to capacity, supplies of medical oxygen have run short, and morgues and crematoriums have been overloaded with corpses. Patients are dying on hospital beds, in ambulances and in carparks outside.

“Every time we have to struggle to get our quota of our oxygen cylinders,” said B.H. Narayan Rao, a district official in the southern town of Chamarajanagar, where 24 COVID-19 patients died, some from a suspected shortage of oxygen supplies.

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