KEY POINTS

  • The child tested negative in the Rapid Antigen Test but a second test was positive 
  • The new variant is said to be affecting children who exhibit severe symptoms
  • India's hospitals are buckling under pressure in the second COVID-19 wave 

The death of a COVID-19-positive toddler after an agonizingly long wait at the door of an overwhelmed hospital in south India has come to mark the second wave of the pandemic which left the country's health care system in shambles. Health workers said that the impact on the children was one of the reasons that made the second wave more deadly.

A video showed the mother wailing outside the hospital in the Vishakhapatnam city Tuesday, pleading with authorities to save her 15-month-old child who struggled for breath inside an ambulance.

"Please save my child, someone please save my child. They left her on the road. Is this why you became doctors? I went from hospital to hospital to save her but they have left her on the road," Uma, 23, pleaded. "They ask us to dial 104 but no one answers," she was heard saying. 

The father stayed inside the ambulance, anxiously pumping oxygen using an Ambu bag in a bid to keep the child alive, reported  NDTV.

Reports said the child, Chandvika, had been unwell for the past few days. Though she tested negative for COVID-19 in Rapid Antigen Test, her fever didn't go down. Another test was done, which turned out positive. However, the hospital which tested her refused to take her in. That's when her parents rushed her to King George Hospital, which was already filled to the brim.

"The parents waited 90 minutes for emergency care. Finally, the baby died virtually at the hospital doorstep," a witness said.

However, hospital authorities told NDTV that though there was some delay, the baby was admitted at around 3:30 pm (ET 6 am) but couldn't be saved. "There was no denial of admission or treatment. But this is one of the rare cases of babies in that age group contracting the virus and succumbing to it," said medical superintendent P Mythili.

The incident hints at how disastrous the second wave is, even for children. Doctors who treat children have noted a clear shift in trend wherein children exhibit severe symptoms like prolonged fever and gastroenteritis in the second wave. 

"During the first wave, most children remained asymptomatic, and a large number of them went untested because of that," pediatrician Dr. Bakul Parekh told Hindustan Times. "We tested children only when someone in the family had a history of COVID-19. A small number of children did have mild symptoms, which lasted only for a day or two."

He attributes this to the new variant of the virus. "The available medical literature shows that the ‘double mutation’ found in Maharashtra (now called B1.617) can be one of the reasons behind it," said Parekh.

India recorded its highest single-day case count Wednesday, with nearly 3.8 lakh new cases and over 3,000 deaths.

India has been ravaged by a devastating wave of Covid infections in recent weeks, with infection and death rates growing exponentially, overwhelming hospitals and oxygen supplies running low India has been ravaged by a devastating wave of Covid infections in recent weeks, with infection and death rates growing exponentially, overwhelming hospitals and oxygen supplies running low Photo: AFP / Maude BRULARD