India’s COVID woes worsen amid continued oxygen shortage



New Delhi :   Daily coronavirus death toll and infections in India, which is 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 – Al Jazeera reported on Saturday.
“India recorded over 3.46 lakh new Covid-19 cases in the last 24 hours ending 8 am Saturday. The rapid uptick in new cases has taken India’s total infection count to over 1.66 crore. Out of these, over 25.52 lakh cases are currently active while over 1.38 crore people have recovered after testing positive. With 2,624 new fatalities the death toll is now over 1.89 lakh”, Indian based ‘The Indian Express’ reported on Saturday.
According to Al Jazeera, 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.” The International news outlet Al Jazeera commented.
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 conference on Friday.
The city’s government said it would begin setting up buffer stocks of oxygen to speed supplies to hospitals when they are within hours of running out.
“Every hospital is running out [of oxygen]. We are running out,” Dr Sudhanshu Bankata, executive director of Batra Hospital, a leading hospital in the capital, told NDTV channel.
At least 20 COVID-19 patients at the critical care unit of New Delhi’s Jaipur Golden Hospital died overnight as “oxygen pressure was low”, the Indian Express newspaper reported.
“Our supply was delayed by seven-eight hours on Friday night and the stock we received last night is only 40 percent of the required supply,” the newspaper quoted the hospital’s medical superintendent, Dr DK Baluja, as saying.
Crematoriums across Delhi said they were full and asked grieving families to wait.
One charity has set up an overflow crematorium in a car park, with makeshift funeral pyres built to deal with the mounting deaths.