Workers refill medical oxygen cylinders at a charging station during the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. Photo: Naveen Sharma/SOPA Images via ZUMA Wire/dpa
Workers refill medical oxygen cylinders at a charging station during the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. Photo: Naveen Sharma/SOPA Images via ZUMA Wire/dpa

India on Friday logged over 332,730 new Covid-19 infections – once again the highest-ever daily infection count worldwide – as a major hospital in New Delhi reported several deaths while flagging a critical shortage of medical oxygen.

The South Asian country posted another grim record as it registered 2,263 deaths – its highest death toll from Covid-19 in a 24-hour period, government data showed. Overall, 186,920 people have died.

India recorded 314,835 cases on Thursday, surpassing the previous highest one-day spike of around 300,300 cases in the United States on January 2, according to Johns Hopkins University’s tracking website.

Twenty-five of the “sickest” patients died in the last 24 hours at Sir Ganga Ram hospital in Delhi, which put out an emergency appeal to authorities on Friday morning, saying it had oxygen for only two more hours and 60 more patients were at risk.

Hospital chairman DS Rana said there had been a large number of deaths of Covid-19 patients in 24 hours for the first time, but did not link them to oxygen shortage. However, senior doctors told NDTV a lack of oxygen could have been a “contributory factor” in the deaths.

Delhi is the worst-affected among India cities, where several hospitals have flagged a growing shortage of oxygen, beds and medicines amid a rise in cases, and approached the courts for help.

The Supreme Court has called the public health crisis a national emergency and directed the government to prepare a national plan.

India is in the grip of a second wave that began in mid-February. The explosion in infections has been attributed to people’s failure to observe safety measures, as well as more infectious variants.

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