Hospitals in India are running dangerously low on oxygen amid a deadly second wave of COVID-19 that is crippling the country’s healthcare system.
On Friday, the country marked its second day holding the world’s highest single-day number of new cases since the beginning of the pandemic at 332,730 new cases and 2,263 deaths.
The same day, twenty-five families in New Delhi woke up to news that their loved ones had died while hospitalized at the city’s Sir Ghana Ram hospital due to a lack of oxygen.
Over the course of the week, several major hospitals in the nation’s capital reported dangerously low stocks of oxygen, which is one of the most important resources in treating COVID-19 patients.
The shortage led to intervention from leaders within the Indian government, who managed to help organize a late-night oxygen refill on Tuesday. Family members of those hospitalized have even been told to figure out a way to get oxygen for their loved ones themselves.
During the country’s first wave in September, the country saw a similar lack of oxygen. But the second wave, which began in mid-March, has devastated India’s healthcare system. Aside from oxygen, the country is experiencing a severe shortage of hospital beds, medicine, ventilators, and other resources crucial to saving lives.
The country is even running low on vaccines, despite being the world’s largest vaccine producer.
India’s infection rate still falls behind that of the US at the height of the pandemic when adjusted for its population size of four times that of the U.S.
Even so, India’s total confirmed cases have reached over 16 million with over 187,000 related deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Cases in the country are at their peak, leading to public anger and frustration. And no one knows when case numbers are going to fall.