PPE suits, face masks and gloves, critical resources in the fight against the COVID-19 virus, have been tossed aside as garbage inside Delhi's Lodhi Crematorium. The kits were thrown away by relatives and friends of people who died after contracting the infectious virus and whose bodies were sent to the crematorium for disposal.
In shocking visuals from inside the crematorium - which is located in one of the national capital's more upscale residential neighbourhoods - several sky-blue PPE (personal protective equipment) suits lie discarded among piles of plastic waste and household rubbish, raising serious questions about a potential biohazard situation and the possibility of the virus spreading even further.
According to crematorium staff the Delhi municipal corporation is supposed to collect medical waste every day and ensure its proper disposal. However, they have not been regular in their pick-ups, leading to the mounds of abandoned PPEs and protective gear.
People living in slums just outside the crematorium told NDTV that on several instances PPE kits - potentially carrying the highly infectious COVID-19 virus - were also thrown outside, near their homes.
The novel coronavirus, so named because it has not been previously identified in humans, spreads, rapidly, via respiratory droplets from infected persons. According to the World Health Organisation, the virus also spreads via indirect contact - when droplets attach to surfaces like the inside of a PPE suit.
The improper disposal of these suits and other protective equipment has left those living near the crematorium fearful of an outbreak in their localities.
In April, Delhi's AIIMS (All India Institute of Medical Sciences) released guidelines for the use of PPE kits. These said that they should not be re-used unless absolutely necessary.
Delhi is the second worst-affected region in the country with nearly 60,000 cases, including 24,558 active cases and 2,175 deaths. There were 3,000 new cases on Sunday - the third consecutive day that the number of new infections breached that mark.
The spike in cases has left the ruling AAP (Aam Aadmi Party) scrambling to find enough hospital beds and ventilators (machines to take over the body's breathing function).
The Delhi government has warned that it will need around 80,000 new beds by the end of next month, by which time it expects to have around 5.5 lakh COVID-19 cases.
The crisis in the national capital attracted the wrath of the Supreme Court last week, which said the situation was "horrendous, horrific and pathetic" and directed the centre and Delhi governments to fix the problems.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah has held several meetings with Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal since, including one late Sunday night. Among the measures that have now been put in place are more "robust" contact tracing, re-mapping of containment zones and the strengthening of medical services in worst-affected areas of the city.