NEW DELHI – A catastrophic second wave of the coronavirus is hitting India, which is reporting the world’s highest number of new infections as hospitals and patients demand rapidly dwindling oxygen supplies and other emergency aid.
India recorded more than 330,000 coronavirus cases in 24 hours, the health ministry said Friday, the second consecutive day the country set a global record for daily infections.
Canada joined Britain, Hong Kong, Singapore and New Zealand in blocking travelers from India. And the US State Department advised against people going to India after the Centers for Disease Control raised their risk level to its maximum extent.
Faced with a barrage of criticism of his government’s handling of the second wave, Prime Minister Narendra Modi canceled plans to travel to West Bengal for an election rally as elections are held there.
Although cases increased, Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata party and other parties continued to hold mass demonstrations with thousands exposed. The government has also allowed a huge Hindu festival to attract millions of pilgrims despite signs that it has become a super-broadcast event.
The catastrophe in India is unfolding vividly on social media, with Twitter feeds and WhatsApp groups broadcasting hospitals ‘requests for oxygen and medicines and families’ desperate searches for beds in overwhelmed Covid-19 wards. With many hospitals running out of ventilators, television reports showed patients lying inside ambulances parked outside the emergency room, struggling to breathe.
Swati Maliwal, activist and politician in Delhi, tweeted that her grandmother died while waiting to be admitted outside a hospital in Greater Noida near New Delhi.
“I stood there for half an hour begging for admission and nothing happened,” she wrote. “Shame! Pathetic!”
The death toll from the virus rose more than 2,200 on Friday, a new high.
Fortis Healthcare, one of India’s leading hospital chains, tweeted an SOS message to Mr. appeal for more oxygen in a hospital in the state of Haryana on the border with Delhi.
“Fortis Hospital in #Haryana has only 45 minutes of oxygen left,” the company wrote, asking government officials “to act immediately and help us save patients’ lives.”
Four hours later, the hospital received a tanker, the company tweeted.
At the AIIMS hospital in Delhi, India’s leading research hospital, contact tracing between healthcare workers was suspended because there were not enough staff to spare for the exercise, according to Srinivas Rajkumar, a representative of the doctors’ association. residents.
In Maharashtra, which includes Mumbai and is one of India’s worst-hit states, a hospital fire on Friday attributed to a faulty air conditioning unit killed at least 13 Covid-19 patients, the second Covid hospital tragedy in the state. week. At least 22 patients were killed in a hospital in the city of Nashik Wednesday after a leak cut off their oxygen supplies.
As of Saturday, Indians aged 18 and over can register for a Covid-19 vaccine, but demand is expected to far outweigh supply. So far, more than 135 million people have received at least one dose, about one-tenth of India’s nearly 1.4 billion population. Two vaccines have received clearance for emergency use, with at least five more in the pipeline.