Goulburn Post journalist Neha Attre shares the devastating experience of seeing her home country succumb to COVID-19 in one of the worst waves of the global pandemic.
Makeshift hospitals, mass cremation sites, people gasping for air and losing their lives as hospitals run out of oxygen supplies.
Sitting thousands of miles away from India, where the majority of my family and friends live, I helplessly watch as they struggle through one of the worst outbreaks of this pandemic.
It's been an extremely difficult week for me watching the worrying scenes unfold as the daily number of cases in the country increased to nearly 350,000 in a short span of 24 hours on April 26.
Not a household seems to have been left unaffected during this pandemic and experts believe the numbers are under-reported and could be much higher. The double mutant Indian strain, known as B1617, has made the situation worse, if that's possible.
My family members and friends are a few of the 17 million people in the country who tested positive for COVID-19 and I try to remain in touch with them to know about their well-being on a daily basis.
Their houses have started resembling hospital rooms and are now equipped with oxygen cylinders, medicines and devices that will constantly monitor their oxygen levels.
The healthcare system is struggling to cope after the second COVID wave and sick people consider themselves lucky if they can manage to get a bed in the hospital.
"It was a struggle for us to find a hospital bed for my father after his oxygen levels started dipping," my cousin Ayush said during one of our chats.
"We were lucky that we managed to get one at the last minute and thankfully, he is under the supervision of the doctors."
The other members of the family have also tested positive for COVID and continue to isolate themselves at home and continuously monitor their health condition.
The situation is a stark contrast to the one witnessed in India earlier this year. In March, the number of reported cases was around 15,000 a day and weddings, religious festivals and political rallies were allowed to go ahead as planned as many believed that 'herd immunity' has been achieved.
The global supplier of its coronavirus vaccine 'Covaxin' today needs a helping hand.
Sitting afar, my heart bleeds for the country and I can only wish for the situation to get better.