• The doctors and other hospital staff were hiding in the canteen
  • Hospital authorities said they fear an attack from angry relatives
  • An investigation was launched against the hospital

Amid a record surge in coronavirus cases in India, a horrifying video that went viral online Wednesday showed relatives of COVID-19 patients entering a hospital, seemingly abandoned by doctors and other medical staff, only to find six bodies lying inside a locked ICU.

The incident happened in a hospital in the northern Indian city of Gurgaon on Friday, reported NDTV.

The chilling footage shows people running around wards and nurses' stations, only to find empty desks. "Neither the doctor is here, nor the chemist... no one at the reception. There is not even a guard," a voice can be heard in the background.

Angry relatives are seen arguing with police as to how doctors could desert the patients and run away. They allege the hospital staff had abandoned the patients after they ran out of oxygen.

"How can you allow doctors to run away like this? Only someone who loses their loved ones can understand how we feel," an angry man was heard questioning a police officer who just arrived at the hospital.

The hospital authorities said the staff members were "hiding in the canteen" fearing attacks from the families of the patients who died due to oxygen shortage.

"We had informed relatives of the patients from 4 pm to shift their patients due to the oxygen crisis. But no help came and there were six casualties around 11 pm," Hospital Director Dr. Swati Rathore told NDTV.

She added that the hospital had informed the government officials concerned that they were about to run out of oxygen.

She said she asked the staff to hide as some relatives of a patient had attacked them a day ago. The hospital had filed a police complaint regarding that.

"I feared that my staff would lose their lives this time. The staff never left the hospital that night. They hid temporarily to save their lives. All 15-20 staff members resumed duties as soon as police arrived at the spot on Friday night," said Dr. Rathore.

A probe was launched against the hospital after police received information that it was not a designated COVID-19 facility.

"The hospital was not a designated Covid facility and, as such, should not have been treating Covid patients at all. A probe is being conducted into the matter. Further details will be clearer once the inquiry is complete and the report is ready," a police official told The Indian Express.

In a statement, the district administration said the video "has nothing to do with the current situation."

India is witnessing the world's worst coronavirus outbreak, with cases and deaths rising at an alarming rate. The country recorded 412,000 COVID-19 cases and 3,980 deaths Wednesday, the highest so far in 24 hours.

As the Indian health system collapse under crisis, reports say some hospitals are turning away COVID-19 patients who cannot procure their own oxygen ventilators. The country's medical supply chain remains crippled by the surge in cases, forcing many small clinics and hospitals to discharge patients whose families can't get their own oxygen cylinders or ventilators.

Oxygen shortages have exacerbated a devastating second wave of Covid-19 infections in India as total cases near 20 million
Oxygen shortages have exacerbated a devastating second wave of Covid-19 infections in India as total cases near 20 million AFP / Sajjad HUSSAIN