On Saturday, India’s covid-19 death toll surpassed a new high as the government struggled to provide oxygen to hospitals plagued by hundreds of thousands of new cases per day.
Outside hospitals in major cities across India, covid-19 registered nearly one million new cases in three days.
Another 2,624 deaths were confirmed in 24 hours, setting a new daily high, bringing the total number of deaths to nearly 190,000 since the pandemic began.
India already has over 340,000 new cases, bringing the number to 16.5 million, second only to the United States.
However, several analysts believe that the new wave would not reach its height for at least three weeks and that the true mortality and event figures are even larger.
After being chastised for its lack of readiness in the run-up to the outbreak, the central government has organized special trains to transport oxygen supplies to the worst-affected cities.
It has also pushed manufacturers to boost the demand for oxygen and other life-saving medicines that are in short supply.
At dawn on Saturday, the ‘oxygen express’ bearing 30,000 liters of oxygen for hospitals arrived in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, where armed guards were waiting to escort trucks to hospitals.
Officials said the liquid oxygen will only be enough for half a day’s needs in Lucknow, which has become one of the worst-affected areas, with hospitals and crematoriums inundated with patients and corpses.
The Indian air force also transports oxygen tankers and other supplies across the region.
The city government of New Delhi announced that it will begin building up buffer stocks of oxygen to ensure that supplies to hospitals are delivered quickly while they are on the verge of running out.
Because of a shortage of beds and oxygen, many people are dying outside of hospitals in the capital.
To cope with the rising death toll, one charity has set up an overflow crematorium in a parking lot, complete with improvised funeral pyres.