India’s COVID woes worsen amid continued oxygen shortage

The daily coronavirus death toll and number of infections in India – in the grip of a rampaging second wave of the pandemic – have passed new world records as the government battled to get oxygen supplies to hospitals overwhelmed by the hundreds of thousands of new daily cases.

Authorities scrambled anew on Saturday to supply medical oxygen to Indian hospitals where COVID-19 patients were suffocating amid low supplies.

India has hit a rate of one COVID-19 reported death every four minutes in New Delhi as the capital’s underfunded health system buckled.

Queues of COVID-19 patients and their fearful relatives were building up outside hospitals in big cities across India, the new world pandemic hotspot which has now reported nearly one million new cases in three days.

Another 2,624 deaths, a new daily record, were reported in 24 hours, taking the official toll to nearly 190,000 since the pandemic started.

A further 346,786 new cases were also reported, taking India’s total past 16.6 million, second only to the United States.Many experts are predicting the current wave will not peak for at least three weeks and that the real death and case numbers are higher.

Stung by criticism of its lack of preparation before the new wave of infections, the government has deployed military planes and trains to get oxygen from the far corners of the country to New Delhi.

TV news channels showed an oxygen truck arriving at New Delhi’s Batra Hospital after it issued an SOS saying it had 90 minutes of oxygen left for its 260 patients.

“Please help us get oxygen, there will be a tragedy here,” Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a news conference on Friday.

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