COVID patients, families call for oxygen at India’s hospitals

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The world’s worst coronavirus surge has left Indian hospitals struggling to cope with shortages of beds, medicines and medical oxygen.

India’s coronavirus infections rate, growing at the fastest pace in the world, has left families and patients pleading for oxygen outside hospitals, the relatives weeping in the street as their loved ones die while waiting for treatment.

The nation of nearly 1.4 billion people set a global record of new daily infections for a fifth straight day on Monday.

The 350,179 new cases pushed India’s total past 17 million, behind only the United States. Deaths rose by 2,812 in the past 24 hours, bringing total fatalities to 195,123, the health ministry said, though the number is believed to be vastly undercounted.

Most hospitals in India are not equipped with independent plants that generate oxygen directly for patients, primarily because they require an uninterrupted power supply, which is a rarity in many states.

As a result, hospitals typically rely on liquid oxygen, which can be stored in cylinders and transported in cryogenic tankers. But amid the surge, supplies in hard-hit places like New Delhi are running critically short.

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