Indian hospitals are on the brink of collapse with the country fighting a ‘double mutant’ coronavirus strain during a devastating second wave.
Furnaces have been melting due to overuse as bodies stack up amid a surging death toll which has risen by a record 2,000 in the past 24 hours, alongside 290,000 new cases.
It comes as the UK was told adding India to its red list restricting travel came weeks too late, with 215 cases of the new variant already detected within Britain, according to the latest figures.
Data from the Government’s official variant tracking programme shows reported cases of the mutant strain have nearly tripled from the 77 detected last week.
MPs who are part of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (AAPG) were told by experts last night that actual infections of the India strain could exceed 1,000.
Since the start of the pandemic, India has recorded nearly 180,000 Covid deaths, 15,000 of which have come since the start of April.
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It means hospital intensive care units are full, with almost all ventilators in use and further testing kits delayed.
Crematoriums have been burning piles of the dead round the clock – often three to four times more than normal – with depleting pyres unable to cope.
An electric furnace in Ahmedabad collapsed after being in constant use for 20 hours each day for two weeks straight, while the iron frames of a furnace in Surat melted.
People were being asked to bring their own wood for cremations in Lucknow with supplies running low.
India had fully re-opened its economy following last year’s lockdown, while further overcrowding due to huge religious festivals and political rallies have meant the country became a hotbed for transmitting the virus.
Official Covid data in the UK, meanwhile, suggests one in 200 positive swabs are the B.1.617 variant – first identified in India.
It comes after scientists and Labour politicians criticised the Government for failing to prevent thousands of people arriving from India each week despite knowing about the variant for a month.
The country was only added to the red list on Monday and measures don’t kick in until 4am on Friday.