| 18 April 2024, Thursday |

India reports over 2,000 COVID-19 deaths in single day

India reported more than 2,000 deaths from the coronavirus over the last 24 hours, the highest single-day tally for the country so far, health ministry data revealed on Wednesday.

The data also showed that COVID-19 infections rose by a record, increasing by 295,041 over the last 24 hours. Total fatalities hit 182,553.

India’s overall case tally stands now at 15.6 million, second only to the United States, which has more than 31 million infections.

Indian authorities struggled to shore up supplies of medical oxygen to hospitals in the capital, Delhi, on Wednesday as a fast-spreading second wave of COVID-19 stretched medical infrastructure to breaking point, officials and doctors reported.

Delhi’s government appealed for help on social media platforms, saying major government hospitals only had enough oxygen to last another 8 to 24 hours while some private ones had enough for just 4 or 5 hours.

One hospital, the GTB hospital, got some oxygen supplies just before it was going to run out of stocks for its 500 patients, media reported.

“We had almost lost hope. All of us were in tears when we saw the oxygen tanker arrive,” one relieved doctor, speaking on condition of anonymity, told India Today.

The city of 20 million registered 28,395 new infections and 277 fatalities on Tuesday, its highest since the pandemic began. Every third person tested for COVID-19 was found positive, according to the state government.

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi said his country faced a COVID-19 “storm” overwhelming its health system.

“Oxygen demand has increased. We are working with speed and sensitivity to ensure oxygen to all those who need it. The center, states and private companies, all are working together,” Modi said in a televised address to the country on Tuesday evening.

PM Modi faces criticism that his administration lowered its guard when COVID-19 cases fell to a multi-month low in February and allowed religious festivals and political rallies, some of which he addressed to go ahead.

“The situation was manageable until a few weeks ago. The second wave of infections has come like a storm,” Modi said in his address, calling on citizens to stay indoors and not panic amid India’s worst health emergency in memory.

India has launched a vaccination campaign but only a small fraction of its population has received jabs.

Delhi is under a 6-day lockdown to try and stem the transmission. The western state of Maharashtra, home to the financial capital Mumbai, also plans to impose a tough lockdown this week to try to halt the surge in infections, the cabinet said.

The premier ordered a stringent lockdown of India’s 1.3 billion people when COVID-19 was detected last year but his cabinet has always been wary of the large economic costs of tough restrictions.

He said on Tuesday a lockdown should only be a last resort.

  • Reuters