'Nobody is helping': India's hospitals in COVID crisis

Just hours ago, Manika Goel's mother died of COVID-19. Now, she is sat by her husband's side in a New Delhi hospital - where he is in a critical condition with the virus.

39-year-old Amit is wedged between three other patients in a hospital casualty ward.

One of many in India, the world's second most populous nation, that is totally overwhelmed with patients.

Goel, a software engineer, says she managed to find an oxygen cylinder for her husband.

But doctors say he needs a ventilator - and none can be found.

"He was admitted last night. We brought him at nine o'clock. My mom expired in the morning today because of lack of a ventilator, there was no ventilator, otherwise, she could have survived. Now again, he needs ventilator support. The doctor says we have two days. I have tried, I don't know, thousands of numbers across India - nobody is helping."

Thousands of Indians have been frantically searching for beds and life-saving oxygen for their sick relatives - even seeking help from social media apps and personal contacts.

Hospital beds that do become available, especially in intensive care units, are snapped up in minutes.

The situation is dire.

The head of ICU at Holy Family Hospital, Dr. Sumit Ray, told Reuters some patients are dying on their way to hospital, because they are going from hospital to hospital, trying to find a bed.

"It is very bad. It is beyond bad actually. It is not a crisis, it is a devastatingly bad situation. That's how I can describe it. It's reached a point where crisis is a very mild word for it. At this point of time, we have patients, we are beyond our capacity in the ICU as you can see. We have put in beds, in stretchers between beds. We have run out of ventilators. We are using anaesthesia machines to ventilate patients. We have patients on the ward who are very sick and ideally should be in an ICU but we have no space for them."

India's total COVID-19 cases surpassed 18 million on Thursday, and the country has repeatedly broken records recently for the number of fatalities in a single day there.

Gravediggers are working around the clock to bury victims.

Hundreds have been cremated in makeshift pyres in parks and parking lots.

Meanwhile, Goel continues to feel helpless - and is worried about what she will tell her eight-year-old son if she has to return home without his father.