Health System Overwhelmed In India As COVID Cases Skyrocket

There is an outpouring of concern after horrifying scenes of suffering in India due to the coronavirus pandemic. Tom Wait reports.

Video Transcript

Tonight a travel ban to and from India is in place to try and stem the spread of coronavirus, which is razing out of control in that country.

- Yeah, and doctors there say the health system has been pushed to the brink. And people who live in Southern California who have family in India say they fear for them.

- That's right. KCAL 9 political reporter Tom Wait is here live with the very latest for us. Tom.

TOM WAIT: Hi there, Juan and Lesley. Well, the situation is so devastating for families here in the US. The travel ban means being partly cut off from parents, children, and friends. And there are more concerns this outbreak could lead to more potent variants. Horrifying scenes of suffering in India as COVID continues to ravage the country, and the virus's deadly toll shows no signs of relenting.

ASHISH JHA: If everything goes very well, things will be horrible for the next several weeks.

TOM WAIT: The country is reporting more than 300,000 new coronavirus cases for a 13th consecutive day. Doctors at this hospital in New Delhi say their health care system is close to collapsing, with medical supplies dwindling and ICU beds only available when someone dies.

- We are losing patients here, and it is not a hidden factor. It is there, everybody knows it.

TOM WAIT: We spoke with a man who lives not far from New Delhi, who described the dire situation. If you had to go to the hospital right now, would there be a spot for you?

MANISH KHANDELWAL: No, not really. They are completely full. Of course like, a few of my relatives got admitted in the hospital just a few days back. At that time, the situation was OK, then they got admitted very easily. But after the 10 days of their admission, the situation is like they cannot give you any single bed.

TOM WAIT: With COVID cases spiraling out of control, the Biden administration is banning travel from India to keep potentially deadly variants out of the US. America is sending more than $100 million worth of medical supplies to the US Ally. Indian-Americans like the Khinda's, who own Flavor of India here in the Southland, say the scenes playing out are heartbreaking. Tarsem Khinda and his daughter spoke with us about their relatives in India who contracted COVID but survived.

AMRIT KHINDA: A month ago, my family in India actually got COVID. And it was scary because people in my family that live there is like my grandma and my grandpa, and they're pretty old, which means that like getting COVID is really bad for their lungs and their body.

TARSEM KHINDA: Terrible actually. There was [INAUDIBLE] They was afraid to go to hospital, because anybody go in the past-- anybody go to hospital didn't come back. They were lying there. The hospital is a pack. There's no bed, basically. They sleep on, you know, outside it [INAUDIBLE]

TOM WAIT: With India's government struggling to tackle the COVID crisis, citizens are blaming their government for botching vaccinations and dropping restrictions. We spoke with reporter, Sunita Sohrabji from India-West, a California-based news outlet. She says large gatherings like religious festivals went unchecked.

SUNITA SOHRABJI: All of a sudden 50 million people, conservatively, descended on this one town almost in the Himalayas, over a 10 day period of time. Official numbers put the number of deaths at 2,000 per day. A number of public health experts say that they're about five times higher. So you've got about 10,000 people dying a day. And a million new infections a day, which is not, again, not the official numbers.

TOM WAIT: The official numbers that India has reported more than 220,000 deaths from the virus. But as you heard there from Sunita, people on the ground say the numbers are much worse. Especially because the data does not include many of India's smaller villages. Juan, back to you.

- All right, Tom. Thank you.