India reported a record number of Covid-19 cases for the fifth straight day on Monday while the official death toll also jumped. Official data showed there were 352,991 new reported cases over a 24-hour period as total infection numbers crossed 17 million. At least 2,812 people died which pushed the total death toll to over 195,000 — media reports suggest that the official death rate is likely undercounted.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has faced criticism for allowing large crowds to gather for religious festivals and election rallies in various parts of the country this year. Prior to the second wave, India had on average around 10,000 new cases daily. But so far in April alone, the South Asian nation has reported more than 5 million new cases, sending the country’s health care system to the brink. Hospitals have run out of beds and are turning away even critically ill patients. There is a severe oxygen supply shortage, partly due to uneven distribution across states. That has led to the deaths of many Covid-19 patients as the government scrambles to send supplies to the worst-hit states by road, rail and air.
Indian media reported that billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries will produce over 700 tonnes of medical-grade oxygen per day at one of its oil refineries. It would reportedly be given to worst-hit states for free. Tata Group said last week it will import 24 cryogenic containers, which are also reportedly in short supply, to transport liquid oxygen. Meanwhile Jindal Steel and Power said it will supply 500 metric tonnes of liquid oxygen to hospitals that urgently need them. Indian social media users have also taken to the platforms to coordinate availability and access to medical supplies, oxygen cylinders and other forms of aid.