Advertisement

India faces oxygen shortages as COVID-19 cases skyrocket

Empty oxygen cylinders are returned from hospitals at oxygen filling center in Bangalore, India, on Wednesday. Photo by Jagadeesh NV/EPA-EFE
Empty oxygen cylinders are returned from hospitals at oxygen filling center in Bangalore, India, on Wednesday. Photo by Jagadeesh NV/EPA-EFE

April 23 (UPI) -- India set another record for new COVID-19 cases within a 24-hour period as medical officials scrambled to meet oxygen demands in the nation's hospitals Friday.

India reported 332,921 new cases -- the highest figure any country has recorded in a single day since the start of the pandemic -- and 2,263 deaths Thursday. According to a New York Times analysis, the country has seen a 160% increase in cases and a 197% increase in deaths over the past two weeks.

Advertisement

The spike in cases and hospitalizations is pushing hospitals' oxygen supplies to the limit as more and more patients are ventilated.

The medical director at Delhi's Sir Ganga Ram hospital said 25 people died overnight after a shortage decreased flow to those who needed high pressure oxygen, according to BBC News.

RELATED Officials declare 3rd COVID-19-related emergency for Tokyo, other areas

Hospital workers have issued desperate pleas for more oxygen to treat patients, with some also experiencing a shortage of medicines and beds.

India's Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said earlier this month that the country has about 55,000 tons of oxygen in reserve and can produce some 7,700 tons of oxygen daily. Less than a week later, the government told the Delhi High Court that the country was using 8,800 tons of oxygen each day, The New York Times reported.

Advertisement

The BBC said hospitals in Uttar Pradesh in the north have started putting up signs saying they're out of oxygen, while oxygen refilling centers in Hyderabad have hired bouncers to handle growing crowds.

RELATED Most with mild COVID-19 still need care months later, CDC reports

Earlier this week, nearly two dozen patients at the Dr. Zakir Hussain Municipal Hospital in Maharashtra state died after a leak cut off oxygen to patients for about half an hour.

The Supreme Court on Thursday ordered the government to establish a national distribution plan and import some 55,000 tons of oxygen.

RELATED Study confirms cases of human-to-cat COVID-19 transmission

A year in pandemic: How COVID-19 changed the world

January 31, 2020
National Institutes of Health official Dr. Anthony Fauci (C) speaks about the coronavirus during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, D.C. Health and Human Services Secretary Alexander Azar (L) announced that the United States is declaring the virus a public health emergency and issued a federal quarantine order of 14 days for 195 Americans. Photo by Leigh Vogel/UPI | License Photo

Latest Headlines