India reported a record over 314,000 new infections Thursday, as a brutal second wave of coronavirus cases sends more and more patients into a fragile health system, short of hospital beds and medical oxygen.
Infections added in the past 24 hours, mostly attributed to a so-called double mutant variant, increase the total of 15.9 million cases in India since the start of the pandemic.
The death toll also rose from a record 2,104 in the past 24 hours, bringing the total death toll in India to 184,657, the health ministry said.
Here are the latest updates:
Congress party attacks Modi for his vaccination policy
The leader of the Indian opposition party in Congress, Sonia Gandhi, has attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the vaccination policy.
Gandhi accused the government of making it expensive for people between the ages of 18 and 45 to get shot because of a differential pricing mechanism.
“It is a complete abandonment of the responsibility of the government towards our young people”, one reads in a letter sent by Gandhi to the Prime Minister.
“How can the same vaccine manufactured by the same company have three different prices?” There is no justification or justification for such an arbitrary distinction, ”she added.
Congress leader writes to prime minister for news # COVID-19[FEMALE[FEMININE vaccination policy for inoculation of people aged 18 to 45
The letter reads: “The policy implies that the GoI has relinquished the responsibility of providing free vaccination to these citizens … You urge to step in and reverse a rash decision” pic.twitter.com/5jMypGgTmh
– ANI (@ANI) April 22, 2021
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‘Pray, borrow or steal, it’s a national emergency’
The New Delhi High Court ordered the government to divert oxygen from industrial use to hospitals to save lives.
“You can’t kill people because there is no oxygen. Begging, borrowing or stealing is a national emergency, ”the judges said in response to a request from a New Delhi hospital asking for his intervention.
The government is rushing oxygen tankers to resupply hospitals.
Indian Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said Thursday that “supply and demand are monitored around the clock.”
#Oxygen demand and supply are monitored 24 hours a day
To cope with the exponential peak in demand, the Center has increased the oxygen quota for:
♦ ️Delhi@PMOIndia @MoHFW_INDIA # Unite2FightCorona pic.twitter.com/Cvm4EBqtq2
– Dr Harsh Vardhan (@drharshvardhan) April 21, 2021
He said in a tweet that to cope with the exponential spike in demand, the government had increased the oxygen quota for the seven most affected states.
The lockdowns and strict restrictions have brought pain, fear and agony to many lives in New Delhi and other cities.
Shortage of hospital beds
In familiar scenes across the country, ambulances are seen rushing from hospital to hospital, trying to find an empty bed. Mourning relatives line up in front of the crematoriums where the arrival of corpses has jumped on several occasions.
“Every day I get many calls from patients who are in desperate need of a bed. The demand is far too great than the supply, ”said Dr Sanjay Gururaj, doctor at Shanti Hospital and Research Center, based in Bengaluru.
“I try to find beds for patients every day, and it’s extremely frustrating not being able to help them. In the past week, three of my patients died at home because they couldn’t get a bed. As a doctor it’s a horrible feeling, ”Gururaj said.
Sell jewelry to buy oxygen
Yogesh Dixit, a resident of the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, said earlier this week that he had to purchase two oxygen cylinders at 12,000 rupees ($ 160) each, more than double the normal cost , for his sick father because the Lucknow public hospital was short of supplies.
He bought two “because doctors can ask for another bottle of oxygen at any time,” he said, adding that he had to sell his wife’s jewelry to cover the cost.
The health ministry said out of the country’s total production of 7,500 metric tons of oxygen per day, 6,600 metric tons were allocated for medical use.
Bodies cremated on the sidewalks
The main cremation ground in Lucknow, the state capital, received nearly 200 bodies on Sunday.
Shekhar Chakraborty, 68, described the scene: “The bodies were everywhere, they were cremated on sidewalks intended for walking. I have never had such a flow of corpses in my life, ”he said.
In Kanpur, another city in the state of Uttar Pradesh, 35 new temporary platforms have been set up on the Bithoor-Sidhnath Ghat stretch along the Ganges to cremate the bodies.
He also said that 75 rail coaches in the Indian capital have been turned into hospitals providing 1,200 additional beds for COVID-19 patients.