India reported a global record of more than 314,000 new infections on Thursday as a severe wave of coronavirus in the world’s second most populous country sends more and more sick people into a fragile healthcare system short of hospital beds and oxygen.
The 314,835 infections added in the past 24 hours increase the total number of reported cases in India to over 15.9 million since the start of the pandemic. It is the second highest total in the world after the United States. India has nearly 1.4 billion people.
Fatalities have increased by 2,104 in the past 24 hours, bringing India’s overall death toll to 184,657, the health ministry said.
A large number of hospitals are reporting severe shortages of beds and medicines and are operating on dangerously low oxygen levels.
On Wednesday, the New Delhi High Court ordered the government to divert oxygen from industrial use to hospitals to save people’s lives. “People cannot be killed because there is no oxygen. Begging, borrowing or stealing is a national emergency,” the judges said in response to a petition from a New Delhi hospital asking for his intervention.
The government is rushing with oxygen cylinders to supply hospitals.
Indian Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said Thursday that “supply and demand are monitored around the clock”. He said in a tweet that to address the exponential peak in demand, the government has increased the oxygen quota for the seven worst-affected states.
Security locks and strict sidewalks have brought pain, fear and agony to many lives in New Delhi and other cities.
Desperate for beds
In familiar scenes across the country, ambulances are seen running from hospital to hospital, trying to find an empty bed. The bereaved relatives are lining up outside the crematoria where the arrival of the corpses has been skipped several times.
“I get numerous calls every day from patients desperate for a bed. The demand far exceeds the supply,” said Dr. Sanjay Gururaj, a physician at Shanti Hospital and Research Center in Bengaluru.
“I try to find patient beds every day and it has been incredibly frustrating not to be able to help them. In the past week, three of my patients have died at home because they were unable to find a bed. As a doctor, it’s a sensation. terrible, ”Gururaj said.
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Yogesh Dixit, a resident of northern Uttar Pradesh state, said earlier this week that he had to buy two oxygen cylinders at Rs. 12,000 ($ 200 Cdn) each, more than double the normal cost, for his ailing father because the state hospital in Lucknow was out of stock.
He bought two “because doctors can ask for another oxygen tank at any time,” he said, adding that he had to sell his wife’s jewelry to meet the cost.
The main cremation ground in Lucknow, the state capital, received nearly 200 bodies on Sunday. Shekhar Chakraborty, 68, described the scene “Bodies were everywhere, they were cremated on pavements meant to walk. I have never had such a stream of corpses in my life,” he said.
In Kanpur, another city in the state of Uttar Pradesh, 35 new temporary platforms have been installed on the Bithoor-Sidhnath Ghat stretch along the Ganges River to cremate the bodies.
The health ministry said that of the country’s total production of 7,500 tons of oxygen per day, 6,600 tons were allocated for medical use.
He also said that 75 train carriages in the Indian capital have been converted into hospitals providing an additional 1,200 beds for COVID-19 patients.
The Times of India newspaper says the previous highest daily tally of 307,581 cases was reported in the United States