India Covid: Delhi running out of space for cremations

Officials in Delhi have been urged to find more sites for cremations as the city’s morgues and crematoriums are overwhelmed by masses of Covid deaths.

A second wave of the virus is ravaging parts of India, with 386,452 new cases reported on Thursday – the biggest one-day increase on record for any country.

There were another 3,500 deaths nationwide on Thursday and nearly 400 in Delhi – a record for the capital.

The total number of infections in the country has now passed 18 million.

The first consignment of emergency medical supplies from the US arrived on Friday, part of what the White House has said will be more than $100m (£72m) worth of support.

But oxygen supplies and hospital beds remain in desperately short supply across India, with relatives of Covid patients pleading on social media for help.

One senior Delhi police officer said that people were having to cremate family members in crematoriums not designated to take victims of Covid-19.

“That’s why we suggested more crematoriums should be set up,” the officer told the NDTV news channel.

India’s Health Ministry released detailed guidelines last year for the handling and cremation of people who have died of Covid, with special measures needing to be taken to avoid any potential reinfection.

India’s central government is facing mounting criticism over its handling of the pandemic and its decision to allow large election rallies and religious festivals to go ahead in recent weeks.

The health minister defended the government on Thursday, saying the country’s fatality rate was the lowest in the world and that oxygen supplies were “adequate”.

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