Indians gasping for air!

NEW DELHI (CU)_Over the last 24 hours, India reported more than 300, 000 new COVID-19 infections, the highest daily global total since the beginning of the pandemic. This daily rise in cases of 314,835 surpassed the previous highest daily total of 297,430 reported by the United States in January. Meanwhile, the number of virus-induced deaths in the countries rose by 2,104 bringing the total to 184,657.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the country is now facing a Coronavirus “storm”, stretching its healthcare system to a breaking point. Hospitals in the capital city of Delhi and elsewhere have warned that their supply of medical oxygen is running low, with some hospitals having barely two hours’ supply of the life-saving gas.

In Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, some people reportedly attempted to loot oxygen cylinders as they struggle to save the lives of relatives in hospital. Meanwhile, a hospital in Nashik city, in the state of Maharashtra, 24 patients died after an oxygen tanker leaked, disrupting the supply for around 30 minutes. The incident forced 30 other patients to be transferred to other hospitals.

“The leakage was spotted at the tank supplying oxygen for these patients. The interrupted supply could be linked to the deaths of the patients in the hospital,” Maharashtra State Health Minister Rajesh Tope said.

Health experts say that this recent surge in infections and deaths is a result of people having let their guard down immediately after the situation began to improve, allowing big gatherings such as religious festivals and weddings. PM Modi himself has been criticised for hosting political rallies for large gatherings and for giving the green light for millions of people to gather for religious festivals.

So far, India has administered the third-highest number of COVID-19 vaccine doses in the world, having inoculated nearly 130 million. However, this number is relatively small for a country with a population of 1.35 billion people. Adding to the concerns, the Serum Institute of India says that it will not be able to meet its previous forecast of a monthly output of 100 million doses until July. With the government deciding to open the country’s immunisation drive for all adults from next month, this news from the SII may delay India’s vaccination campaign.

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