Believe it or not, rising Covid-19 cases have left the Indian capital's medical infrastructure on the brink of collapse. Several hospitals in the city are left with just a few hours of oxygen, the Chief Minister of Delhi said on Tuesday, prompting the High Court to slam the federal government for not banning the industrial use of the life-supporting gas immediately.
On Tuesday, India reported as many as 259,170 Covid-19 cases and 1,761 fatalities in the past 24 hours, the highest daily death toll since the pandemic broke out over a year ago. The national capital alone reported over 30,000 new Covid cases and some 250 deaths.
"Serious oxygen crisis persists in Delhi. I again urge the Centre (federal government) to urgently provide oxygen to Delhi. Some hospitals are left with just a few hours of oxygen," Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted, after a number of leading private hospitals claimed that their oxygen supplies will last for a maximum of 8-12 hours.
Local TV channels also beamed footage of hundreds of Delhi residents queuing up in hospitals, begging for beds for their loved ones with Covid-19 positive reports.
Taking cognizance of the media reports and Kejriwal's tweets, the Delhi High Court also came down heavily on the federal government and questioned its decision to implement a ban on the industrial use of oxygen for Covid patients only from April 22. "Economic interests can't override human lives. Else we are heading for a disaster," the court said.
"Out of 130 crore, there are less than two crore official cases. Even if it's five times, that means only 10 crore cases. We should protect the remaining people. At this rate, we might lose one crore people. We should act fast. We are not here to run the government but you have to be sensitive to the situation," a two-judge bench said.
UNB had earlier reported that the Covid-19 pandemic has suddenly turned India into a Covid vaccine importer from a mass exporter. And the government has turned to foreign vaccine producers for inoculating the citizens. The Sputnik vaccine from Russia, officials had said, would arrive next month.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi rolled out the world's largest Covid inoculation programme on January 16. Two 'Made in India' jabs, one developed by the Serum Institute in collaboration with AstraZeneca, and the other by Bharat Biotech, are being given.