New Delhi – Despite not having completed his medical training, 26-year-old Rohan Aggarwal is the doctor who must decide who lives and dies as India continues its battle against a brutal second wave of Covid-19.
Working at one of the best hospitals in India, Mr Aggarwal makes the difficult decision during a 27-hour shift – and his medical training will only be completed next year, reported Reuters on Wednesday (May 5).
Mr Aggarwal’s shift includes a grim overnight period in which he is in charge of the emergency room at the Holy Family Hospital in New Delhi. Patients come to him gasping for air while their family members beg him for mercy.
Patients, relatives and staff know there aren’t enough beds, oxygen or ventilators for everyone. “Who to be saved, who not to be saved should be decided by God,” said Mr Aggarwal.
“We are not made for that – we are just humans. But at this point in time, we are being made to do this.”
In the last two weeks, India has reported a global record of more than 300,000 confirmed Covid-19 cases daily. Furthermore, experts have commented that the numbers are almost certainly conservative.
Fewer than 20 of the more than 5,000 Covid-19 intensive care unit (ICU) beds are free at any given time.
As patients rush to find a hospital that will accept them, some are left to die on the street or at home.
Oxygen trucks travel with armed guards due to low supply while crematoriums work nonstop to burn or bury the bodies of patients which arrive every few minutes, reported Reuters.
Mr Aggarwal himself knows that his own hospital may not be able to provide him with a bed should he get infected. He is unvaccinated as he was sick in January when shots were available for medical professionals.
“The doctors and nurses are demoralised,” said Dr Sumit Ray, the hospital’s medical superintendent and head of the ICU. “They know they can do better, but they just don’t have the time.”
“It’s really a depressing atmosphere,” said Mr Aggarwal, describing the hospital. “I just want to have a break of an hour or so outside the hospital so that I can just recollect myself. Because I have to be there for another 24 hours.”
On Thursday (May 6), India reported over 412,000 new cases of Covid-19 and nearly 4,000 deaths in 24 hours.
India’s top scientific advisor said that a third wave is inevitable, and it is necessary to prepare for new waves, reported India Today.
To date, the country has 21,070,852 Covid-19 cases with 230,151 reported deaths./TISG