A health worker takes a swab sample from a woman to test for COVID-19 at a testing centre in Srinagar. Photo: AFPThe World Health Organization chief has voiced alarm at India’s record-breaking wave of Covid-19 cases and deaths, saying the organisation was rushing to help address the crisis.

“The situation in India is beyond heartbreaking,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters.

His comments came as India battles a catastrophic coronavirus wave that has overwhelmed hospitals and crematoriums working at full capacity.

A surge in recent days has seen patients’ families taking to social media to beg for oxygen supplies and locations of available hospital beds, and has forced the capital New Delhi to extend a week-long lockdown.

“WHO is doing everything we can, providing critical equipment and supplies,” Tedros said.

He said the UN health agency was among other things sending “thousands of oxygen concentrators, prefabricated mobile field hospitals and laboratory supplies.”

The WHO also said it had transferred more than 2,600 of its experts from various programmes, including polio and tuberculosis, to work with Indian health authorities to help respond to the pandemic.