April 28 (UPI) -- As it deals with its most severe spike of COVID-19 cases, India surpassed 200,000 coronavirus-related deaths on Wednesday, and became only the fourth country to top the mark.
Since the middle of March, cases in India have taken off, according to Johns Hopkins University. More than 360,000 cases were reported on Tuesday, India's highest one-day toll to date.
Since the start of the pandemic, there have been almost 18 million cases in India -- more than any other nation except for the United States. India's death toll, now more than 201,000, is the world's fourth-highest behind the United States (573,000), Brazil (395,000) and Mexico (215,500).
Officials in Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Surat and Bangalore have placed strict lockdowns on those cities. Shortage of oxygen and medical supplies are just two of the challenges facing a challenged healthcare system there.
"We always anticipated the second way in April or May but we never know it would hit this hard and this fast," Dr. Ali Raza, director of emergency and trauma at India's Moolchand Hospital, told Bloomberg. "They all arrive gasping and they all need oxygen."
Social media has been filled with calls to swamped Indian hospitals that are going virtually unanswered. Delhi, for example, has just a few open intensive care beds for a population of 16 million.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's administration said Wednesday it has bought more oxygen from the PM Cares Fund. Officials say measures are needed to improve hospitals' oxygen supplies for coronavirus management.
Modi has faced criticism for ordering Twitter this week to remove posts that were critical of his administration's COVID-19 response. Twitter agreed to block a few dozen critical posts to India users, but they remain visible outside the country.