NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Thursday urged the Indian government to reveal its coronavirus disease (COVID-19) response plan as a second wave of cases overwhelmed medical facilities struggling to cope amid an acute shortage of oxygen and beds.
India reported more than 314,000 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours — the highest one-day tally so far recorded anywhere in the world — taking the total number of confirmed cases in the country close to 16 million. The daily death toll of 2,104 was also its worst since the beginning of the pandemic.
The surge is raising more fears about India’s overwhelmed healthcare system and the government’s mishandling of the crisis. Social media platforms in India have been flooded by desperate messages from people asking for help in getting hospital admission and oxygen for COVID-19 patients.
In Thursday’s hearing, India’s Chief Justice Sharad Arvind Bobde, said: “We want to see the national plan on this issue.” He added that the court also wished to know what the government was doing with regard to oxygen and drug supplies throughout the country.
In the capital, New Delhi, oxygen supplies are insufficient, and people have reportedly been dying outside hospitals while waiting for admission.
On Thursday, chief minister of Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal, said: “Delhi needs 700 metric tons of oxygen daily, but it is getting 480.”
The city registered more than 24,000 cases in the last 24 hours and close to 200 deaths.
Monika Yadav, who moved to New Delhi with her brother to work, witnessed her sibling die from COVID-19 because she said they could not get medical help.
“My brother needed oxygen immediately and he was brought to the hospital but there was no one to take care of him. He came to Delhi to make a life for himself and his family, but everything is finished now,” she told Arab News.
The situation in India’s largest and most populated state, Uttar Pradesh, is also grim, with more than 33,000 new cases recorded in the last 24-hour period. On Wednesday, some private hospitals in the state capital Lucknow asked family members of critically ill patients to shift to other medical facilities as they had no oxygen to help them.
Lucknow-based political analyst and former civil servant, Surya Pratap Singh, told Arab News: “The state is in chaos and there is no political leadership to take care of the people. There is no medicine, no oxygen, and no hospital. It’s total collapse and people have been left at the mercy of God.”
He blamed the federal government for downplaying the danger of COVID-19 and not taking the pandemic response seriously, preferring to focus on regional elections.
“The government does not have a strategy. They just do firefighting, and the country is paying the price for this mismanagement,” he said.