(AP) - India has reported a global record of more than 314,000 new coronavirus infections as a surge in the world’s second most populous country sends more people into a fragile health care system critically short of hospital beds and oxygen.
The 314,835 infections added in the past 24 hours raise India’s total past 15.9 million cases since the pandemic began – the second-highest total in the world after the US. India has nearly 1.4 billion people.
The Times of India newspaper said the previous highest daily case count of 307,581 was reported in the US on January 8.
Deaths in India rose by 2,104 over the 24 hours, raising the overall toll to 184,657, the Health Ministry said.
A large number of hospitals are reporting acute shortages of beds and medicine and have dangerously low levels of oxygen.
New Delhi High Court on Wednesday ordered the government to divert oxygen from industrial use to hospitals to save lives.
“You can’t have people die because there is no oxygen. Beg, borrow or steal, it is a national emergency,” the judges said responding to a petition by a New Delhi hospital.
The government is rushing oxygen tankers to replenish supplies to hospitals.
Health minister Harsh Vardhan said on Thursday that “demand and supply is being monitored round the clock”, and the government has increased quotas for the seven worst-hit states.
Lockdowns and strict curbs have brought pain, fear and agony to many lives in New Delhi and other cities.
In scenes familiar across the country, ambulances rush from one hospital to another, trying to find an empty bed, and grieving relatives line up outside crematoria.
The Health Ministry said that of the country’s total production of 7,500 tonnes of oxygen per day, 6,600 tonnes were being allocated for medical use.
It also said that 75 railroad coaches in the capital have been turned into hospitals providing an additional 1,200 beds for Covid-19 patients.