New Delhi, May 5 (EFE).- A court has ruled that the deadly oxygen shortage in Indian hospitals was “a criminal act” and nothing “less than a genocide” as the devastating second wave of the coronavirus continues with a record number of nearly 3,800 deaths posted Wednesday.
The top court in northern Uttar Pradesh state made the stinging criticism late on Tuesday as social media was flooded with viral images and videos after some patients allegedly died due to the lack of medical oxygen in hospitals.
“We are at pain in observing that death of covid patients just for non supplying of oxygen to the hospitals is a criminal act and not less than a genocide by those who have been entrusted the task to ensure continuous procurement and supply chain of the liquid medical oxygen,” the court said.
Justices Siddhartha Varma and Ajit Kumar, in their stern remarks, directed the state government to take “immediate remedial measures” and ensure an adequate supply of oxygen in all hospitals so that no one dies for want of the life-saving gas.
“How can we let our people die in this way when science is so advanced that even heart transplantation and brain surgery are taking place these days.”
In a separate ruling, the top court in New Delhi pulled up the federal government and threatened contempt action for not complying with judicial orders on oxygen supply in hospitals.
“We are facing the grim reality every day of people not being able to secure oxygen beds or ICU beds,” the Delhi high court said.
The court took a serious note that the situation had so much worsened that hospitals and nursing homes in the capital were declining patient intakes due to a shortage of medical oxygen.
The court said the health “infrastructure is crumbling” even as there was a need to increase the capacities to meet with the rising numbers of Covid-19 infections.
The rulings came as Covid-19 infections and deaths continued to mount at an alarming pace in the country of 1.35 billion people.
On Wednesday, India reported 3,780 deaths from the virus, the highest number since the pandemic began, raising the total fatalities to 226,188.
Daily infections increased by more than 382,000 new cases in the last 24 hours, bringing the overall caseload to more than 20.6 million.
The caseload is second only to that of the United States, which has recorded over 32 million confirmed infections.
Experts attribute the rise in infections and deaths in India to a complacent attitude of the government and people after daily cases fell below 9,000 in mid-February.
India relies on its vaccination drive to check the devastation unleashed by the second wave, but the percentage of the fully vaccinated population is pathetically low at 2 percent.
Several factors, including vaccine shortages, have marred the world’s largest vaccination drive, with many regions expressing their inability to go ahead with the new phase due to inadequate doses.
The hitches have aggravated the deadly effects of the second wave of infections that has overwhelmed hospitals and morgues as patients scramble for medicines and life-saving oxygen.
The vaccination rate has also been slow. During the last 24 hours, the country administered just 1.4 million vaccines, one of the lowest numbers recorded in recent weeks.
Meanwhile, more than 40 countries have started sending aid, including medical equipment, oxygen generators, oxygen cylinders, and concentrators, to India to help it fight the pandemic amid a shortage of critical medical supplies. EFE