Heath desk – 26 April 2021: As hospitals in Delhi and many other cities run out of beds, people have been forced to find ways to get treatment for sick patients at home. Many have turned to the black market, where prices of essential medicines, oxygen cylinders and concentrators have skyrocketed and questionable drugs are now proliferating.
On Monday, India recorded a new global high for daily coronavirus cases for a fifth straight day at 349, 691.
Anshu Priya could not get a hospital bed in Delhi or its suburb of Noida for her father-in-law and as his condition continued to deteriorate. She spent most of Sunday looking for an oxygen cylinder bt her search as futile.
So she finally turned to the black market. She paid a hefty amount – 50,000 rupees ($670; £480) – to procure a cylinder that normally costs 6,000 rupees. With her mother-in-law also struggling to breathe, Anshu knew she may not be able to find or afford another cylinder on the black market.
This is a familiar story not just in Delhi but also in Noida, Lucknow, Allahabad, Indore and so many other cities where families are desperately cobbling together makeshift arrangements at home.
But most of India’s population cannot afford to do this. There are already several reports of people dying at the doorsteps of hospitals because they couldn’t afford to buy essential drugs and oxygen on the black market.
The called several oxygen cylinder suppliers and most of them asked for at least 10 times more than the normal price.
The situation is particularly dire in Delhi where there are no ICU beds left. Families of those who can afford it are hiring nurses and consulting doctors remotely to keep their loved ones breathing.
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A doctor in Delhi said that was how hospitals were working and “there are real fears now that a big tragedy may happen”
Fake remdesivir has also appeared in the black market. When the BBC questioned a dealer that the drug he was offering seemed fake as the firm manufacturing it wasn’t on the list of the companies licensed to produce it in India, he replied that it was “100% original”.