On Thursday, New Delhi confirmed over 217,353 new coronavirus infections, as hospitals struggled to cope with the influx of patients. Exhausted medical staff have described having to turn away critically ill people due to a lack of capacity. With deaths averaging around 1,000 per day, there are fears the country stands on the brink of a major medical disaster.
Dr Pankaj Solanki told The Daily Telegraph: “I believe we are seeing a stronger mutation, many patients are testing negative for the virus but clinically they are Covid-19 positive.
“The Pandora’s box of this disaster is open now.”
The Medical Director at the Dharamveer Solanki Hospital in New Delhi added: “People’s condition is deteriorating much quicker, we’re seeing many more patients with a cytokine storm and a lot of younger patients.
“Their symptoms are a lot more difficult to manage this time.”
The new variant is causing concern because it contains two mutations that are thought to help the virus avoid detection by the body’s immune defences.
Scientists believe that it is more contagious and can cause reinfection.
“Now is the time for action.”
It comes as Public Health England confirmed on Thursday that 77 cases of the Indian variant have been discovered in the UK.
According to The Guardian, the first of these cases were detected in specimens dating back to February.