Rush to hospitals, big gatherings worsen India COVID crisis: WHO

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People in India are rushing unnecessarily to hospital, exacerbating a crisis over surging COVID-19 infections caused by mass gatherings, more contagious variants and low vaccination rates, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Tuesday.

India’s death toll is now pushing towards 200 000, and hospitals that do not have enough oxygen supplies and beds are turning away coronavirus patients. The WHO is providing critical equipment and supplies to India, including 4 000 oxygen concentrators, which only require an energy source, WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said.

Less than 15% of people infected with COVID-19 actually need hospital care and even fewer will need oxygen, he said. “Currently, part of the problem is that many people rush to the hospital (also because they do not have access to information/advice), even though home-based care monitoring at home can be managed very safely,” Jasarevic said.

Community-level centres should screen and triage patients and provide advice on safe home care, while information is also made available via hotlines or dashboards, he said.

“As is true in any country, WHO has said the combination of relaxing of personal protective measures, mass gatherings and more contagious variants while vaccine coverage is still low can create a perfect storm,” he said.

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