New Delhi, May 3 2021: Despite much needed foreign support pouring in, India struggles to battle the deadly second wave in the pandemic as its caseload touches 20 million and total deaths stand at 219,000. Infections began to soar in March by about 8 million according to official data which many feared may be well below the real numbers.
The prime source of the devastation is the oxygen shortages in hospitals and India’s underfunded healthcare system with beds and drugs also falling short, leaving people to die outside hospitals in queues. The surge in cases is attributable to new more deadly variants and also the government’s lax attitude towards social and religious gatherings.
Last month there were incidents of fires in hospitals resulting from oxygen shortage and last night on Sunday, Twenty-four people died in one hospital overnight in the southern state of Karnataka after a hospital ran out of oxygen, according to local press reports even though hospital authorities deny this.
On Saturday, a hospital in New Delhi, saw 12 deaths after it experienced an oxygen shortage reports said. While overnight, Several hospitals sent out desperate appeals for oxygen on social media with deliveries arriving only in the nick of time.
In Delhi, The Madhukar Rainbow Children’s hospital with critically ill new-borns and small children at risk, raised the alarm on Twitter over a shortage of oxygen.
Authorities at both federal and state level are scrambling to out together a supply of oxygen to hospitals and the Supreme Court has ordered the government to rectify the situation by 1830GMT on Monday. The government has already tried sourcing it from industry and abroad in the form of oxygen generating plants sent by Germany and France. Special “Oxygen Express” trains are also running across the country.
The German ambassador Walter J. Lindner said, “Out there the hospitals are full. People are sometimes dying in front of the hospitals. They have no more oxygen.”
Latest figures from the Health ministry on Monday showed that India had added around 370,000 new infections in the previous 24 hours as well as 3,400 deaths. Having recorded 219,000 deaths, India is still behind Brazil and the US according to per capita data, however, since Brazil with one fifth of India’s population has crossed 400,000 and the US over 500,000.
The inoculation drive in India is faltering with around 15.7 million jabs administered to date, which amounts to just over one percent of the population of 1.3 billion people.
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