NEW DELHI (CU)_ As India is grappling with the world’s biggest surge of daily COVID-19 infections, a dozen patients were killed in a fire in a hospital on Friday (23 April). The blaze is said to have begun in an intensive care unit of the Vijay Vallabh hospital in Mumbai.
This was the latest accident to hit a facility in the South Asian nation, as 24 patients died on Wednesday after an oxygen tanker leaked in a hospital in Nashik city, in the state of Maharashtra.
On Friday, the country reported the world’s highest daily infections for the second consecutive day, reporting 332,730 new cases. The virus is said to be stretching India’s healthcare system, with hospitals warning their supply of medical oxygen is running low, along with a shortage in ventilators, medicine and hospital beds.
Posting an appeal for emergency supplies of oxygen, Max Healthcare, which runs a network of healthcare facilities in the country, said on Twitter: “SOS – Less than an hour’s Oxygen supplies at Max Smart Hospital & Max Hospital Saket. Awaiting promised fresh supplies from INOX since 1 am”.
Similar requests were posted on social media by other hospitals and ordinary people who are in desperate need of the life-saving gas. Experts say the recent surge in infections is a result of people having let their guard down during winter, when daily infections stood at about 10,000, as the government lifted restrictions on large gatherings.
“Indians let down their collective guard. Instead of being bombarded with messages exhorting us to be vigilant, we heard self-congratulatory declarations of victory from our leaders, now cruelly exposed as mere self-assured hubris,” Zarir F Udwadia, a member of the Maharashtra state government’s task force, wrote in the Times of India.
It is believed that a new and more infectious variant of the virus, which had originated in India, may be responsible for the rise in cases. Meanwhile, Canada joined Britain, Singapore and UAE in blocking flights from the South Asian nation.