India has shattered a global record of daily coronavirus cases, reporting a grim 314,835 new infections in the last 24 hours.
The healthcare system in the world”s second most populous nation is already buckling under severe demand in the pandemic – and now major hospitals say they are running critically short of beds and oxygen.
On Wednesday, the New Delhi High Court ordered the Indian government to divert oxygen from industrial areas to hospitals to help stem the shortage.
“You can’t have people die because there is no oxygen,” said the judges. “Beg, borrow or steal, it is a national emergency.”
More than 15.9 million people have tested positive for COVID-19 in India, which puts the country of 1.4 billion people second only to the United States.
A total 184,657 people have died, including another 2,104 people on Thursday.
In Bengaluru, a local doctor said he receives “numerous” calls every day from people who are “desperate” for a hospital bed.
“I try to find beds for patients every day, and it’s been incredibly frustrating to not be able to help them,” said Dr Sanjay Gururaj, who works at the Shanti Hospital and Research Centre.
“In the last week, three patients of mine have died at home because they were unable to get beds. As a doctor, it’s an awful feeling.”
Meanwhile, in Lucknow, the main crematorium ground has been receiving bodies in enormous numbers: nearly 200 arrived on Sunday.
“The bodies were everywhere, they were being cremated on sidewalks meant for walking,” said 68-year-old Shekhar Chakraborty.
“I have never such a flow of dead bodies in my life.”