Two to a bed: COVID overwhelms India hospitals

Two patients, to one bed, gasping for air and wearing oxygen masks.

This is the reality inside a government hospital in India's capital New Delhi battling the country's growing COVID-19 crisis.

Daily infections in India crossed 200,000 on Thursday (April 15), according to official data, making it the highest anywhere in the world.

At Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital, one of India's largest COVID-only facilities with more than 1,500 beds, a stream of ambulances ferried patients to the overflowing casualty ward.

Doctor Suresh Kumar is the hospital's medical director:

"We are definitely overburdened. We are already working at the full capacity, rather double of the capacity. Our initial ICU beds were less but now we have increased, just doubled the number of ICU beds. Initially, it was only 54 ICU beds, now we have 300 plus ICU beds, so we are already over-stressed.”

After imposing one of the world's strictest lockdowns for nearly three months last year, India's government relaxed almost all curbs by the beginning of 2021.

Now many regions - including Mumbai, and the rest of Maharashtra state - are introducing localized restrictions.

The government has blamed a widespread failure to practice social distancing and wear face masks.

Experts have blamed everything from official complacency to aggressive variants.