The country continues to struggle against the worst outbreak of all time.
NEW DELHI (AP) – A fire in a COVID-19 hospital ward in western India killed 18 patients early Saturday as the country battled the worst outbreak so far intensifying a vaccination campaign for all of its adults, although some states say they don’t have enough jabs.
On Saturday, India broke another daily global record with 401,993 new cases, bringing its count to more than 19.1 million. Another 3,523 people died in the last 24 hours, increasing the total number of deaths to 211,853, according to the Ministry of Health. Experts believe that both numbers are a lower count.
The fire started in a COVID-19 infirmary on the ground floor and was extinguished within an hour, police said. The cause is being investigated.
Thirty-one other patients at the Wellness Hospital in Bharuch, a city in the state of Gujarat, were rescued by hospital officials and firefighters and their conditions were stable, said policeman B.M Parmar. Another eighteen died in the fire and smoke before rescuers could reach them, Parmar said.
On April 23, a fire in an intensive care unit killed 13 COVID-19 patients in the Virar area, just outside Mumbai.
Eight patients with COVID-19, including a doctor, died in a New Delhi hospital after the oxygen supply ran out of oxygen, the Press Trust of India news agency reported. There was no confirmation from hospital staff.
The New Delhi news channel also said that a lawyer at Batra Hospital told a New Delhi court that the hospital ran out of oxygen for 80 minutes on Saturday before the tank was refilled.
Hospitals in the Indian capital have complained about emergencies caused by irregular supplies of oxygen by manufacturers due to the sudden increase in demand.
Faced with an unprecedented increase in cases that filled hospitals and crematoriums, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government described the pandemic as a “single crisis in a century”. Modi held a cabinet meeting on Friday that discussed measures to save the country’s ruined health system by adding hospital beds, solving problems in the production, storage and transport of oxygen and facing shortages of essential medicines.
Television footage showed a woman panting in her car while her family was looking for a hospital bed on the outskirts of New Delhi.
The 33-year-old woman was unable to find a room in three hospitals and died in the car on Friday, reported The Times of India.
Eight patients with COVID-19, including a doctor, died in a New Delhi hospital after the oxygen supply ran short, the Press Trust of India news agency reported. There was no confirmation from hospital staff.
Media reports said a lawyer at Batra Hospital told a New Delhi court that the hospital had run out of oxygen for 80 minutes before the tank was refilled.
Hospitals in the Indian capital have complained of disruptions in oxygen supply by manufacturers due to the sudden increase in demand caused by the massive increase in coronavirus infections.
The government on Saturday changed its wobbly high-speed vaccination campaign, saying that all adults 18 and older were getting their vaccines.
Since January, almost 10% of Indians have received a dose, but only about 1.5% have received it, although India is one of the world’s largest vaccine producers.
Some states have said that they do not have enough doses for everyone. Even the ongoing effort to inoculate people over 45 is stuttering.
The state of Maharashtra has said it will not be able to start on Saturday. Satyender Jain, the health minister of the capital, New Delhi, said earlier this week that the city does not have enough doses to vaccinate people between 18 and 44 years old.
Meanwhile, the United States has joined a growing list of countries that restrict travel from India, the White House said, citing the devastating increase in COVID-19 cases and the emergence of potentially dangerous variants of the coronavirus.
President Joe Biden spoke to Modi on Monday about the growing health crisis and promised to send assistance immediately. This week, the United States began distributing drugs, rapid virus and oxygen tests to India, along with some materials needed for India to boost its domestic production of COVID-19 vaccines.
In addition, a team of CDC public health experts was expected to be on site soon to help Indian health officials reduce the spread of the virus.
Other nations also sent assistance, and the Indian Air Force transported oxygen containers from Singapore, Dubai and Bangkok.
A German military aircraft with 120 fans to India left on Saturday morning from Cologne, and plans were being made for other flights with more supplies. Also on board was a team of 13 people who will help prepare for the installation of a mobile oxygen production unit that will be sent to India next week, said the German news agency dpa.