Oxygen shortages get deadly as India’s Covid-19 cases near 20 million

By David Asta Alares

New Delhi, May 3 (EFE).- At least 24 patients died on Monday allegedly due to the lack of medical oxygen supply in a hospital in India with the country leaping closer to 20 million coronavirus infections.

According to the federal health ministry, more than 300,000 cases were recorded for the 12th day in a row in the second-most affected country in the world.

India recorded 368,147 new infections in the last 24 hours from Sunday morning, according to the health data, taking the overall caseload to 19.9 million.

The figure marked a slight decline for the second successive day after infections in the country passed 400,000 for the first time on Saturday.

Deaths due to the virus rose by 3,417 over the past day, raising the total number of fatalities due to Covid-19 to 218,959, a figure that many experts say could be higher.

India, home to 1.35 billion people, continues to record the highest number of fatalities in the world.

The second-most populous country in the world has been reeling under a devastating second wave that has overwhelmed its health system, with a shortage of oxygen and beds reported in major cities, including the capital, New Delhi.

In total, 10 of the 36 regions of the country, including western Maharashtra, New Delhi, and Karnataka in the south, reported nearly 74 percent of the new cases, while the positivity is in 21.2 percent when only last a month it was below 6 percent.

The rapidly-spreading second wave has strained the Indian health system amid an inadequate supply of medical oxygen in hospitals that has caused many deaths.

At least 24 people died in a public hospital in the southern state of Karnataka after it exhausted its oxygen.

Karnataka Education Minister S. Suresh Kumar, who is also the Chamarajanagar district in charge where the incident occurred, told EFE that the authorities were probing the deaths that have caused a wave of outrage in the state.

Several such incidents occurred in India in recent weeks amid an exponential rise in coronavirus cases.

On Apr.21, at least 22 Covid-19 patients died in a hospital in Maharashtra after a leak in an oxygen tank.

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 oxygen and medicines in hospitals to treat critical patients.

In New Delhi, one of the worst-hit cities by the pandemic, several hospitals have refused to take new patients due to the lack of oxygen.

“(We) wouldn’t take any admission which require oxygen or ventilation support due to inconsistent liquid oxygen supply. This is with immediate effect,” Madhukar Rainbow Children’s Hospital in New Delhi announced on Twitter.

The situation is bound to create a scarcity of hospital beds for critically ill patients, some of whom have been forced to travel from one hospital to another for proper medical care.

The capital has 5,151 intensive care beds, of which only 26 were free on Monday.

India relies on its vaccination drive to check the devastation unleashed by the second wave.

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