India transports oxygen from abroad as Covid ‘shakes the nation’

India is airlifting emergency oxygen tanks as it battles a catastrophic second wave of Covid-19 infections which Prime Minister Narendra Modi said “rocked the nation”.

New Delhi reported on Saturday it recorded a world record of 349,000 new infections, as well as more than 2,700 deaths as the country’s second wave reaches global milestones.

A total of 190,000 people are believed to have died from Covid-19 in India, although experts believe the real number of cases and deaths is ongoing largely undercounted while sick patients struggle to get tested and deaths are poorly reported.

Chronic bed and oxygen shortages have left hospitals in hot spots such as Delhi plead publicly for relief, as patients die for lack of treatment – even when they line up outside hospitals waiting to be seen. More than 20 patients have died at a private Delhi hospital, Jaipur Golden, after oxygen supplies ran out.

Modi and his government have come under fire for failing to prepare health systems for the latest wave. In a radio speech on Sunday, Modi said the central government was fully committed to resolving the crisis. “After successfully fighting the first wave, the country was full of confidence, but this storm rocked the nation,” he said.

Indian Air Force Saturday flew in four Singapore oxygen containers. India is also expected to start importing equipment for production and emergency oxygen supply from other countries such as Germany and the United Arab Emirates.

Rudra Chaudhuri, director of the Carnegie India think tank, said airlifts have little equivalent in the history of modern India. “In an emergency like this, even the specter of C-130 planes landing at Indian bases with oxygen tankers is quite unprecedented and I can only suspect there will be more in the next few years. days, ”he said. “The point is, there has been a crisis in public administration in this country when it comes to planning.”

Analysts have blamed complacency for the shortage of beds and health supplies – in a country that enjoys the nickname “the world’s pharmacy” for its medical manufacturing prowess – as authorities did not anticipate such a heavy burden for it. the health system. The government is also accused of exacerbating the crisis by organizing mass electoral rallies and allowing a giant religious holiday. go forward long after it was clear that the virus was out of control.

Ramachandra Guha, a prominent historian of modern India, wrote that the current wave may be “the most serious crisis the nation has faced since partition”, referring to the bloody separation of the subcontinent between l ‘India and Pakistan in 1947.

In Delhi, which has returned to lockdown in an attempt to stop the surge, hospitals have repeatedly found themselves with as little as an hour of oxygen and forced to issue “SOS” public calls for refills.

In cities across the country, authorities reimposed restrictions, hospitals were unable to keep up with the arrival of sick patients, and cremation and burial sites were overwhelmed with corpses.

Even as countries step in to help India’s public health response, others like the UK and US have come under heavy criticism for their inaction so far.

Indian vaccine makers and analysts blamed US use of war powers restrict exports of some raw materials used in the production of vaccines to exacerbate the slowness of the country’s vaccination campaign.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on twitter Sunday that Washington “was working closely with our partners in the Indian government, and that we will quickly deploy additional support to the Indian people.”

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