India reported the world’s highest daily tally of coronavirus infections for a second day on Friday, surpassing 330,000 new cases. India struggles with a health system overwhelmed by patients and plagued by accidents.
Deaths in the past 24 hours also jumped to a record 2,263, the health ministry said. Meanwhile, officials warned most hospitals were full and running out of oxygen.
The surge in cases came as a fire in a hospital in Mumbai treating COVID-19 patients killed 13 people. On Wednesday, 22 patients died at a hospital in Maharashtra when their oxygen supply ran out due to a leaking tank. At least nine more died in a hospital fire last month in the state’s capital of Mumbai.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been criticized for relaxing virus curbs too soon. He met chief ministers of the worst-affected states to discuss the crisis.
Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said this week people had largely given up COVID precautions and “became very careless” before the surge.
Daily infections hit 332,730, up from 314,835 the previous day. India set a record that surpassed one set by the US in January, of 297,430 new cases. The U.S. tally has since fallen.
Delhi reported more than 26,000 new cases and 306 deaths. It also equals about one fatality every five minutes, the fastest since the pandemic began.
Medical oxygen and beds have become scarce. Major hospitals putting up notices saying they have no room for any more patients.
In New Delhi, people losing loved ones are turning to makeshift facilities. They are undertaking mass burials and cremations as funeral services get swamped. Amid the despair, recriminations have begun.
Health experts say India got complacent in the winter, when new cases were running at about 10,000 a day and seemed to be under control, and lifted restrictions to allow big gatherings.
The government ordered an extensive lockdown last year in the early stages of the pandemic, but it has been wary of the economic costs and upheaval to the lives of legions of poor migrant workers after any tight reimposition of curbs.
Pakistanis send love & prayers for India
Pakistan and India are archrivals on many fronts. However, worried Pakistani social media users have come together in solidarity and are sending love and best wishes to the suffering Indians. IndiaNeedsOxygen is a top trend on Pakistani Twitter.
Modi has said another lockdown would be the last resort. A more infectious variant of the virus that originated in India may have helped accelerate the surge, experts said. Britain, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, and Canada have banned flights from India.
India, a major producer of vaccines, has begun a vaccination campaign but only a tiny fraction of a population of 1.39 billion has received a dose, with experts saying supplies are scarce.
Pakistan also started its COVID-19 vaccination earlier this year. However, it reported 144 more deaths due to coronavirus in the last twenty-four hours. Prime Minister Imran Khan has appealed to the nation to follow COVID-19 SOPs. He also warned that Pakistan may soon be facing a similar situation to India if the current trend continues.
What do you think of this story? Let us know in the comments section below.