India sets record for new coronavirus cases in a single day

Tom Ambrose
·2-min read
<p>A patient suffering from coronavirus is wheeled from the casualty ward in Lok Nayak Jai Prakas</p> (REUTERS)

A patient suffering from coronavirus is wheeled from the casualty ward in Lok Nayak Jai Prakas

(REUTERS)

India has set a grim new record for the highest number of Covid cases in a single day with 314,835 new infections, piling further pressure on the country’s beleaguered health care system.

The coronavirus surge in the world's second-most populous country also saw another 2,104 deaths in the past 24 hours. The country’s overall death toll now stands at 184,657.

The previous highest daily case count of 307,581 was reported in the US on January 8.

More and more sick people are being admitted into an already fragile health care system critically short of hospital beds and oxygen, with 15.9 million cases since the start of the pandemic.

The New Delhi High Court on Wednesday ordered the government to divert oxygen from industrial use to hospitals to save people's lives.

“You can't have people die because there is no oxygen. Beg, borrow or steal, it is a national emergency,” the judges said, responding to a petition by a New Delhi hospital seeking the court's intervention.

The government is rushing oxygen tankers to replenish supplies to hospitals.

Indian Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said on Thursday that “demand and supply is being monitored round the clock”.

He said in a tweet that to address the exponential spike in demand, the government has increased the quota of oxygen for the seven worst-hit states.

In scenes familiar across the country, ambulances are rush from one hospital to another, trying to find an empty bed.

Grieving relatives line up outside crematoriums where the number of dead bodies has jumped several times.

“I get numerous calls every day from patients desperate for a bed. The demand is far too much than the supply,” said Dr. Sanjay Gururaj, a doctor at Bengaluru-based Shanti Hospital and Research Center.

“I try to find beds for patients every day, and it's been incredibly frustrating to not be able to help them.

“In the last week, three patients of mine have died at home because they were unable to get beds. As a doctor, it's an awful feeling.”

The health ministry said that of the country's total production of 7,500 metric tonnes of oxygen per day, 6,600 metric tonnes was being allocated for medical use.

It also said that 75 railroad coaches in the Indian capital have been turned into hospitals providing an additional 1,200 beds for coronavirus patients.

Additional reporting by the Associated Press.

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