India recorded the world’s highest daily tally of 314,835 Covid-19 infections on Thursday as a second wave of the pandemic hit all parts of India.
Health officials across India including the capital, New Delhi admitted that they were in crisis. Most hospitals, private and government-owned, are full and running out of oxygen.
Doctors in some places were advising 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.
“Right now there are no beds, no oxygen. Everything else is secondary,” Shahid Jameel, a virologist and director of the Trivedi School of Biosciences at Ashoka University, told Reuters.
“The infrastructure is crumbling.”
Meanwhile, the oxygen crisis precipitated by the second wave appeared to intensify with complaints of shortage from several states, including Maharashtra where tragedy struck when 24 patients on ventilator support suffocated to death due to leakage in an oxygen storage tank.
The previous record one-day rise in cases was held by the United States, which had 297,430 new cases on one day in January, though its tally has since fallen sharply.
India’s total cases are now at 15.93 million, while deaths rose by 2,104 to reach a total of 184,657, according to the latest health ministry data.
Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain said there was a shortage of intensive care unit beds, with the city needing about 5,000 more than it could find. Some hospitals had enough oxygen to last 10 hours, others just six.
“We can’t call this a comfortable situation,” he told reporters.
Similar surges of infections elsewhere around the world, in South America in particular, are threatening to overwhelm other health services.
India has launched a vaccination drive but only a tiny fraction of the population has had the shots.
To boost the confidence among the people and encourage them to get vaccinated against coronavirus, the Centre said that the breakthrough infection rate after taking the first and the second dose of the Covid-19 vaccines approved in India remained low for both Covaxin and Covishield vaccines.
However, top doctors, including Dr Randeep Guleria, director of AIIMS Delhi, Dr Devi Shetty, chairman of Narayana Health, and Dr Naresh Trehan, chairman, of Medanta, held an interactive meet on Wednesday, where they said vaccine does not prevent from getting the coronavirus infection and advised everyone to maintain Covid-appropriate behaviour even after being vaccinated.