NEW DELHI (AP) – India reported a global record of more than 314,000 new infections on Thursday, as an outbreak of coronavirus in the world’s second most populous country sends more and more sick people to a fragile health system, critically lacking hospital beds and oxygen.
The 314,835 infections added in the past 24 hours increase India’s total to the last 15.9 million cases since the start of the pandemic. It is the second largest total in the world after the United States. India has almost 1.4 billion people.
Deaths have increased by 2,104 in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of deaths in India to 184,657, the Ministry of Health said.
A large number of hospitals are reporting acute shortages of beds and medications and operating at dangerously low levels of oxygen.
The New Delhi High Court on Wednesday ordered the government to divert oxygen from industrial use to hospitals to save people’s lives. “You cannot have people dying because there is no oxygen. Beg, borrow or steal, it’s a national emergency, ”said the judges in response to a petition from a New Delhi hospital calling for his intervention.
The government is sending oxygen tanks to replenish hospital supplies.
Indian Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said on Thursday that “demand and supply are being monitored 24 hours a day”. He said in a tweet that in order to deal with the exponential increase in demand, the government increased the oxygen quota for the seven most affected states.
Severe blockages and restrictions have brought pain, fear and agony to many lives in New Delhi and other cities.
In familiar scenes across the country, ambulances are seen running from one hospital to another, trying to find an empty bed. Bereaved relatives line up outside crematoriums, where the arrival of corpses has occurred several times.
“I get countless calls every day from patients desperate for a bed. The demand is much greater than the supply, ”said Dr. Sanjay Gururaj, a doctor at the Shanti Hospital and Research Center, based in Bengaluru.
“I try to find beds for patients every day and it is extremely frustrating not to be able to help them. In the last week, three of my patients died at home because they were unable to get beds. As a doctor, it feels horrible, ”said Gururaj.
Yogesh Dixit, a resident of upstate Uttar Pradesh, said earlier this week that he had to buy two oxygen cylinders at 12,000 rupees ($ 160) each, more than double the normal cost, for his sick father because the state hospital in Lucknow had run out of supplies.
He bought two “because doctors can order another oxygen cylinder at any time,” he said, adding that he had to sell his wife’s jewelry to pay the cost.
The main cremation site in Lucknow, the state capital, received nearly 200 bodies on Sunday. Shekhar Chakraborty, 68, described the scene “The bodies were everywhere, they were being cremated on the sidewalks made for walking. I have never had such a large flow 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 to cremate bodies.
The Ministry of Health said that of the country’s total production of 7,500 metric tons (8,300 American tons) of oxygen per day, 6,600 metric tons (7,275 American tons) were being allocated for medical use.
He also said that 75 railway cars in the Indian capital had been converted into hospitals, providing 1,200 additional beds for patients with COVID-19.
The Times of India newspaper says the previous highest daily count of 307,581 cases was reported in the United States on January 8.
Associated Press writers Krutika Pathi in New Delhi and Biswajeet Banerjee in Lucknow, India contributed to the report.