The last four months have exposed severe gaps in the country's healthcare system, which is poorly funded and has for years lacked enough doctors or hospital beds.
In suffocating full protective gear inside an Indian intensive care unit with no air conditioning, doctor Showkat Nazir Wani is risking his life battling brutal heat and treating coronavirus patients.
Almost 100 Indian doctors have died since the pandemic began, working punishingly long hours in temperatures that can top 40 degrees Celsius.
"Wearing this PPE kit at ... 40 degrees, it's very difficult, I can say because you are drenched in sweat. Still, (we try) to do our best to save the lives of patients," Wani, a resident doctor at the private Sharda Hospital in Greater Noida outside New Delhi, said.
"It feels very hot and suffocating. But we have to wear it for our own safety," the 29-year-old said before rushing to attend to a patient battling a lung collapse.
India on Friday hit a million coronavirus cases, the third-highest total in the world, with no sign yet of the infection curve flattening as new cases emerge in rural areas. More than 25,000 people have died nationally.
The last four months of the pandemic sweeping India have exposed severe gaps in the country's healthcare system, which is one of the most poorly funded and has for years lacked enough doctors or hospital beds.
The Indian government has defended a strict lockdown it imposed in March to contain the virus spread, saying it helped keep death rates low and allowed time to beef up the healthcare infrastructure. But public health experts say shortages remain and could hit hard in the coming months.
"As a public health measure, I don’t think the lockdown had much impact. It just delayed the virus spread," said Dr Kapil Yadav, assistant professor of community medicine at New Delhi's premier All India Institute of Medical Sciences.
The Indian Medical Association, a voluntary group of doctors which says 99 physicians have died so far, this week issued a "red alert".
"Doctors need to take charge of the situation and ensure the safety of themselves, their families, their colleagues and staff," it said in a statement.
Nausea and dizziness
Sharda Hospital has been providing free treatment to Covid-19 patients under instructions from the state government, which means facilities are basic and many patients are poor.
Not all patients are in hospital gowns. One was on a bed wearing a bedraggled T-shirt with bloodstains.
Because there is no air conditioning, doctors and nurses are quickly drenched in sweat.
Since they are enveloped head-to-foot in plastic protective gear, the sweat can't evaporate to cool them down.
And as going to the toilet means removing all the gear and then putting a new set, some staff skimp on drinking enough water.
Nausea and dizziness can sometimes ensue, and in the long term the staff can risk serious problems including organ damage.
Abhishek Deshwal, who heads the hospital's intensive care unit, said working in such heat while wearing the boiler suits was "doubly stressful for the staff".
"But we are trying to do our best, we don't have any other option."
Some staff have quit or gone on long leave, forcing the government to rope in medical students and even retired staff.
The virus has also affected their relationships with families, and some have admitted being weighed down mentally.
Wani, for instance, has not seen his family based in Indian Kashmir since the outbreak began in March.
As a resident doctor, he is on "Covid call" 24/7, and has hardly had any time to socialise.
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