India has set up a COVID-19 care centre in a school on the outskirts of Mumbai in the western state of Maharashtra to treat rural patients who shun traditional hospitals.
Established as a partnership between a non-profit organisation and the state government in Palghar district some 70 kilometres from Mumbai, the 100-bed facility has seen colourful classrooms converted into wards.
Nurses and doctors avoid wearing full PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) while treating patients to make them feel more comfortable while under their care.
An acute shortage of beds in hospitals prompted the conversion of school into the care centre in the tribal-dominated region where the locals have very limited access to hospitals or medical facilities.
The centre opened on May 1 this year and has since treated over 600 COVID-19 patients.
Currently, there are 41 in-patients at the centre where six doctors work three shifts and two doctors work 24-hour shifts.
India’s overall death toll from COVID-19 crossed 300,000 on Monday (May 24), as it reported 4,454 deaths over the last 24 hours. Its daily coronavirus infections rose by 222,315.
With hospitals and crematoria overflowing and the health system overwhelmed, it is widely accepted that the official figures grossly underestimate the real impact of the epidemic, with some experts saying infections and deaths could be five to 10 times higher.
The second wave has penetrated deep into the countryside and the additional burden of mucormycosis has hit a rural health system ill-equipped to cope.
India’s total coronavirus cases are now at 26.75 million, while total fatalities are at 303,720, according to health ministry data.
(Production: Francis Mascarenhas, Tarun Kumar, Sunil Kataria, Lisa Giles-Keddie)