India has set a world record for the highest number of daily Covid infections for a fourth day in the row with 349,691 infections as the country struggles to contain the surging second wave.
Hospitals in Delhi and across the country are turning away desperate patients after running out of oxygen and beds and the US has offered to step in and help the crisis.
Another 2,767 deaths were also recorded in the past 24 hours although the figures are likely to be far higher due to the country’s limited testing capacity.
Medics said they fear daily infections could soon reach 500,000 as the more contagious double strain continues to drive a huge rise in infections.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said: ‘Our hearts go out to the Indian people in the midst of the horrific COVID-19 outbreak. We are working closely with our partners in the Indian government, and we will rapidly deploy additional support to the people of India and India’s health care heroes.’
India has set a world record for the highest number of daily Covid infections for a fourth day in the row with 349,691 infections as the country struggles to contain the surging second wave
People cremate the bodies of victims of the disease at a crematorium ground in New Delhi on Saturday amid thousands of ne Covid deaths
Family members stand in a queue to refill medical oxygen cylinders for coronavirus patients at an oxygen refile station amid shortages
A woman receives oxygen inside a car provided by a Gurdwara, a Sikh house of worship, in Delhi on Saturday
The United States has faced criticism in India for its export controls on raw materials for vaccines put in place via the Defense Production Act and an associated export embargo in February.
The Serum Institute of India (SII), the world’s biggest vaccine maker, this month urged U.S. President Joe Biden to lift the embargo on U.S. exports of raw materials that is hurting its production of AstraZeneca shots.
Others such as U.S. Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi urged the Biden administration to release unused vaccines to India. ‘When people in India and elsewhere desperately need help, we can’t let vaccines sit in a warehouse, we need to get them where they’ll save lives,’ he said.
In the last month alone, daily cases have gone up eight times and deaths by ten times.
People were arranging stretchers and oxygen cylinders outside hospitals as they desperately pleaded for authorities to take patients in, Reuters photographers said.
‘Every day, it the same situation, we are left with two hours of oxygen, we only get assurances from the authorities,’ one doctor said on television.
The surge is expected to peak in mid-May with the daily count of infections reaching half a million, the Indian Express said citing an internal government assessment.
V.K. Paul, a COVID-task force leader, made the presentation during a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and state chief ministers and said that the health infrastructure in heavily populated states is not adequate enough to cope, according to the newspaper.
The surge is expected to peak in mid-May with the daily count of infections reaching half a million, the Indian Express said citing an internal government assessment
People wearing face masks wait to be vaccinated at the Madhyamgram Rural Hospital in Kolkata
Relatives of a person who died of the infectious disease perform rituals at the confluence of rivers Ganges and Yamuna in Prayagraj
Experts said India became complacent in the winter, when new cases were running at about 10,000 a day and seemed to be under control. Authorities lifted restrictions, allowing for the resumption of big gatherings.
India’s current fatality rate per 100,000 cases is 1.14 per cent, meaning if the nation reaches this anticipated peak there is the potential for 5,700 deaths per day.
At least 20 coronavirus patients died overnight at New Delhi’s Jaipur Golden Hospital on Friday as the ‘oxygen pressure was low,’ the hospital’s medical superintendent Dr Baluja said.
He added: ‘Our supply was delayed by seven-eight hours on Friday night and the stock we received last night is only 40 per cent of the required supply.’
Elsewhere, at the Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, some 25 Covid-19 patients died on Thursday with reports suggesting low oxygen supplies were again the cause of the fatalities.
As overburdened hospitals were forced to turn away patients, Indian Air Force planes and designated Oxygen Express trains were deployed in a bid to speed up the supply of this crucial medical gas.
Harrowing images from a makeshift crematorium in New Delhi on Saturday illustrated the extent of the pandemic in India, with Sky News correspondent Alex Crawford describing the situation as the ‘tip of an iceberg’ to a much larger crisis.
The crematorium was set up outside a hospital in the capital by desperate people who ‘cannot cope’ with the number of dead – and were forced to say goodbye to their loved ones in mass services at ad hoc sites.
As she spoke, men pulled firewood into the site, with Ms Crawford explaining the dead had been arriving at the crematorium ‘virtually every second’ amid what she described as a ‘slightly chaotic’ vaccine roll-out.
A man performs the last rites of his relative who died of the Covid-19 coronavirus disease as other funeral pyres are seen burning during a mass cremation in New Delhi
Medical staff and relatives help a Covid-19 coronavirus patient to get in a car at a hospital in New Delhi
Harrowing images from a makeshift crematorium in New Delhi today illustrated the extent of the pandemic in India, with Sky News correspondent Alex Crawford describing the situation as the ‘tip of an iceberg’ to a much larger crisis
The crematorium was set up outside a hospital in the capital by desperate people who ‘cannot cope’ with the number of dead – and were forced to say goodbye to their loved ones in mass services at ad hoc sites
India’s current fatality rate per 100,000 cases is 1.14 per cent, meaning if the nation reaches this anticipated peak there is the potential for 5,700 deaths per day
It comes as the High Court in New Delhi, which is home to some 30million people, today met to impose a strict ruling that if anyone is found to be restricting oxygen supplies to hospitals they ‘will be hanged’.
Delhi Chief Arvind Kejriwal had complained that desperately needed supplies were being obstructed on state borders before entering New Delhi, crucially delaying delivery to beleaguered hospitals.
Several medics have appealed for help on social media in recent days as the shortage worsened, with Max Healthcare and Fortis Hospital at one point both warning they could run out of supplies within an hour.
Max, which runs hospitals in northern and western India, said on Twitter: ‘We regret to inform that we are suspending any new patient admissions in all our hospitals in Delhi until oxygen supplies stabilise.’
Delhi needs at least 480 metric tonnes of oxygen to affectively treat its Covid-19 patients, according to the Hindustan Times. On Friday, the capital received only 297 metric tonnes of the medical gas.
Dr Jameel, who is the director of the Trivedi School of Biosciences at Ashoka University, today told Radio 4 that India desperately needs to contain the sudden surge by ‘treating as many people as possible at home.’
He added the government needs to do ‘everything possible’ to speed up the supply of oxygen and medicine to those in need, revealing the harrowing plight of families desperately searching for supplies.
People have been begging for oxygen or medical help on social media, and crowds have gathered outside hospitals, with some dying on stretchers as they wait.
On Wednesday, 22 patients died at a hospital in Maharashtra when their oxygen supply ran out after a leak in the tank. Yesterday 13 Covid patients died when a fire broke out at a Mumbai hospital.
‘My family has gone through a harrowing experience in the past week, we had a cousin into hospital who passed away two days back and every 24 hours there was a threat of cut-off of oxygen,’ Dr Jameel said.
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