India recorded the world’s highest daily tally of 314,835 COVID-19 infections on Thursday as a second wave of the pandemic raised new fears about the ability of crumbling health services to cope.
Health officials across northern and western India, including the capital, New Delhi, said they were in crisis, with most hospitals full and running out of oxygen.
Some doctors advised patients to stay at home, while a crematorium in the eastern city of Muzaffarpur said it was being overwhelmed with bodies, and grieving families had to wait their turn. A crematorium east of Delhi built funeral pyres in its parking lot.
“Right now there are no beds, no oxygen...,” said Shahid Jameel, a virologist and director of the Trivedi School of Biosciences at Ashoka University.
“The infrastructure is crumbling.” Six hospitals in New Delhi had run out of oxygen, according to a tally shared by the city government, and the city’s Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said, neighbouring states were holding back supplies for their own needs.
Another 2,104 people died in the space of a day, taking India’s cumulative toll to 184,657, according to the health ministry data. The previous record rise in cases was in the United States, which had 297,430 new cases on one day in January, though its infection rate has since fallen sharply.
Television showed images of people with empty oxygen cylinders crowding refilling facilities, hoping to save relatives in hospital.
NEW DELHI REUTERS, 22 April, 2021