March 4, 2024

Medical oxygen cylinders at a charging station during the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Naveen Sharma | SOPA pictures | LightRocket | Getty Images

India reported a record number of daily Covid-19 cases on Thursday as the country’s second wave of coronavirus shows no signs of slowing.

According to the government, there were 314,835 new cases in a 24-hour period. This exceeded the highest ever increase in the word in a day in cases held by the United States. India also reported 2,104 deaths.

India’s first wave of infections peaked in September following the national lockdown between late March and May last year, which had significant economic repercussions.

Cases increased again in February and in the months that followed, large crowds gathered, mostly without masks, for religious festivals and political gatherings.

So far in April, India reported more than 3.78 million new cases and over 22,000 deaths.

While the reported death toll is rising, some media reports suggest that the official number may be underreported.

Situation on site

The picture on the floor is bleak. Even if officials insist the situation is under control, hospitals are overwhelmed and turn down patients due to lack of beds – even those who are seriously ill. In some cases, unrelated patients are being forced to share beds, according to media reports.

Oxygen supplies are also poor in health facilities, and the government is reportedly sending oxygen intended for industrial use to medical facilities instead.

Indian Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said in a tweet that the federal government is monitoring the supply and demand for oxygen and increasing the quota for several states and regions, including Maharashtra, the epicenter of the country’s second wave.

There is also growing concern about the double mutation of a variant of Covid-19 discovered in India, which could make the virus more contagious.

Most states have tightened social restrictions like introducing curfews, and some have partial lockdowns.

India has given more than 132 million doses of vaccine to date as concerns about supply shortages mount. The number of people who have completed their vaccination is still small compared to the country’s 1.3 billion people. From May 1st, anyone over the age of 18 can be vaccinated.

According to media reports, the government recently approved grants of around $ 610 million for the Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech of the Covid-19 vaccine manufacturer to increase production capacity.

The Serum Institute, the world’s largest vaccine maker by volume, said in a statement this week that it will ramp up vaccine production over the next two months. 50% of the capacity would be used for the government’s vaccination program, the rest for state governments and private hospitals.

The Serum Institute makes AstraZeneca’s vaccine, known locally as Covishield.