India has reported more than 400,000 coronavirus infections over the last 24 hours, while the number of dead from the virus rose to a record 3,980.
The South Asian nation’s tally has surged past 21 million cases, boosted by a record 412,262 new infections. The number of people who have died due to COVID-19 now totals 230,168, health ministry data showed on Thursday.
Many experts suspect that with low levels of testing and poor record-keeping for cause of death – and crematoriums overwhelmed in many places – the real numbers could be significantly higher.
A massive wave of infections since April has pushed India’s healthcare system to the brink, with people begging for oxygen cylinders and hospital beds on social media and news channels.
Bodies have been piling up at cremation grounds and in graveyards, with relatives waiting for hours to carry out the last rites.
Authorities are scrambling to add more beds, sending oxygen from one corner of the country to another and scaling up the manufacturing of the few drugs effective against COVID-19.
Present oxygen plan: Court to gov’t
On Wednesday, the Indian government, facing calls for a strict lockdown to slow the surge in infections, was ordered by the Supreme Court to submit a plan to supply New Delhi’s hospitals with oxygen within a day.
The court decided against immediately punishing officials for failing to end an erratic supply of oxygen to overstretched hospitals during the past two weeks.
“Ultimately putting officers in jail or hauling officers for contempt will not bring oxygen. Please tell us steps to solve this,” Justice Dhananjaya Yeshwant Chandrachud said.