India ’s mounting crisis surrounding a surge in coronavirus infections is prompting wealthy families to flee the country by private jet. With reports of hospital bed and drug shortages sweeping social media, Indian tycoons and others able to afford fares running into millions of rupees are booking flights to bolt-holes in Europe, the Middle East and the Indian Ocean. “It’s not only the ultra rich,” said Rajan Mehra, chief executive officer at New Delhi-based private jet firm Club One Air. “Whoever can afford to take a private jet are taking private jets.” Indian doctors beg for supplies as Covid-19 claims 117 lives an hour India reported 352,991 new infections on Monday, the highest daily tally worldwide since the pandemic began. Delhi is in lockdown until May 3, a measure adopted by the southern state of Karnataka and the worst-hit state of Maharashtra, although some states had been set to lift curbs this week. India has turned to its armed forces for help fighting the crisis as new infections have topped 300,000 since April 21. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has urged all citizens to get vaccinated amid the “storm” of infections. Supplies from Britain, including 100 ventilators and 95 oxygen concentrators, arrived on Tuesday in Delhi, ANI reported, while France’s embassy said it would send oxygen generators able to provide 250 patients with a year’s supply of the gas. Even China, locked in a year-long military standoff with India on their disputed Himalayan border, said it was trying to get medical supplies to its neighbour. “We will encourage and guide Chinese companies to actively cooperate with India,” embassy spokesman Wang Xiaojian said in a statement on its website. With the country’s health infrastructure creaking under the strain, Bollywood superstars were spotted escaping to destinations including the Maldives, while at least three Australian cricketers have quit the Indian Premier League, the sport’s leading club tournament. Some of the impetus for the wealthy to fly out of India has come from overseas measures to restrict travel from the South Asian state as the new wave of Covid-19 cases has taken hold. Canada, Hong Kong, the United Arab Emirates and the UK are among more than a dozen places that have imposed curbs, with others poised to announce measures. The Maldives will restrict Indians from visiting all but a handful of resort-only islands from Tuesday, leading to a last-minute rush in departures. As Covid-19 overwhelms hospitals, Indians seek help from WhatsApp “There was a huge surge to London and Dubai just before the restrictions took place, and the Maldives too before they announced the ban,” said Mehra, who was previously the head of Indian operations at Qatar Airways. A one-way private flight from New Delhi to Dubai costs as much as 1.5 million rupees (US$20,000), including ground handling and other fees, though private-jet operators also charge for the return leg if the plane is empty, Mehra said. The exodus has echoes of last year, when India banned medical evacuation flights amid concern that the super-rich might falsely claim they need treatment in order to jet around the nation during lockdown after the government banned commercial services. While private fares were already high and have not generally been bumped up, the cost of airline tickets has climbed. Nishant Pitti, co-founder of Easy Trip Planners India, said there is limited availability to locations such as London following a surge in bookings for “immediate travel”. One-way economy-class trips to Dubai are going for the equivalent of US$1,300, more than 10 times the regular price, according to Mehra. “That shows how desperately people are trying to get away,” he said.