India patients gasp for breath due to low oxygen amid deadly Covid-19 surge

New Delhi, Apr 24 (EFE).- Hospitals in India continued to struggle with dangerously low levels of medical oxygen as the deadly second pandemic wave piled up nearly 350,000 new patients and killed more than 2,600 people.

Amid the rampaging surge of the virus, which has now killed more than 9,000 people in the last four days, a hospital in New Delhi said 20 of its critically ill patients succumbed because of the oxygen shortage.

DK Baluja, director Jaipur Golden Hospital in northwest Delhi, told EFE: “Twenty Covid-19 patients have died at the hospital as oxygen levels depleted last night.”

The doctor said the facility was “fast running out of oxygen supply as the pressure further dipped this morning.”

He said nearly 200 patients in the hospital needed oxygen support, and some 35 of them were in the intensive care unit.

Other states like Maharashtra, the worst-hit region, also reported critically low levels of medical oxygen, endangering the lives of the severely infected patients gasping for breath.

The federal health ministry data showed that the 346,786 infections over the last 24 hours took the overall coronavirus tally to more than 16.5 million, behind only the United States with over 32 million cases.

The figure is the new global daily record of more than 300,000 coronavirus infections reported in India for the third straight day.

It also means that the country with an already below-par healthcare system has added some 1 million cases in just three days.

Some 2,624 people lost their lives to the virus over the past day, pushing the Covid-19 toll to 189,544 in the country.

As the healthcare system started crumbling under the weight of a growing number of critically ill patients, the government scrambled to ensure oxygen supply to some of the worst-hit regions.

The government Friday began deploying military planes and ran special trains to carry oxygen supplies to hospitals.

“In view of the unprecedented surge in the number of daily cases, the requirement of oxygen supported and ICU beds in addition to adequate oxygen supply along with medicines and trained manpower has increased manifold,” federal Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said.

Experts partly attribute the sudden record-breaking spike of new infections and fatalities to a lax government attitude that allowed mass gatherings, including millions attending the Kumbh Mela religious festival and election rallies in five states that went to polls recently.

Plus, a new “double mutant” variant, gripping the country, is more contagious than the previous strain.

The dangerous surges in the number of infections and deaths have forced several regions, including Delhi and Maharashtra, to impose confinement measures and curb the rise.

The Indian capital recorded over 23,500 cases and nearly 350 deaths in the last 24 hours.

The city of over 20 million people is already suffering because of the fragile healthcare system that has buckled under the pressure with a near full occupancy of intensive care unit beds in government and private hospitals.

Maharashtra, home to India’s financial capital of Mumbai, in the west, continues to be the worst hit by the second wave, with nearly 67,000 new cases and 770 deaths.

The state government announced more restrictions on office attendance, marriage ceremonies, and travel that will remain in force until May 1.

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