KEY POINTS

  • India is now suffering the world's worst COVID-19 outbreak since the pandemic began
  • Hospitals across the nation are running out of oxygen supplies and beds
  • There have been reports of COVID-19 patients dying on the streets while waiting for care

India is now experiencing the world’s worst COVID-19 crisis as people are dying on the streets due to oxygen shortages in hospitals.

On Monday, Indian health officials reported 352,991 new coronavirus infections, which is a record for the highest single-day figure worldwide. They also recorded 2,182 virus-related deaths in the last 24 hours.

In an interview with Catholic News Service, Father P.A. George, director of the Holy Family Hospital in New Delhi, said Catholic hospitals no longer have enough facilities to treat COVID-19 patients.

“The situation is very bad,” he said. "Patients are [in] the corridors and many are dying because no beds, no oxygen."

“I have no place even in emergency [areas] to give oxygen. Patients are just dying in front of my eyes. Feeling so distressed and frustrated and helpless. It is horrible and the disaster is beyond the imagination. Please pray to God (to) give us strength to save some lives,” the priest added. 

In Gujarat state, Syro-Malabar Father Thomas Nadackalan, director of Christ Hospital, said the oxygen shortage is causing 600 patients to be turned away daily. 

“We are struggling to get oxygen in time to save the lives of those admitted,” he said. 

Similar shortages have been reported throughout the country. 

At Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in New Delhi, a spokesman told Reuters that the hospital is "in beg-and-borrow mode and it is an extreme crisis situation." 

Some relatives of COVID-19 patients who have been forced to wait in line for care or turned away by a hospital have turned to the black market to buy their loved ones vials of the antiviral medication remdesivir, which could sell for up to 20,000 rupees ($266), according to CNN. A memorandum released by the Indian government on April 17 pointed out that the cost of a vial of remdesivir was set at 899 to 3,490 rupees ($12 to $47).

Even while India set a record on Monday for the highest single-day figure worldwide, some, including BBC journalist Shadab Nazmi, believe the official death toll could actually be lower than it is.

"People are dying on the streets, gasping for oxygen, such a basic part of the healthcare infrastructure, people should not be in this position," he told ABC

Before the devastating second wave, India had only been reporting an average of 10,000 new infections daily. The government has been criticized after it allowed millions of citizens to attend superspreader events such as religious festivals and election rallies. 

"Government is at complete fault," Shadab said. 

India has been overwhelmed by a surge in Covid infections, recording record deaths as swathes of the country go into lockdown India has been overwhelmed by a surge in Covid infections, recording record deaths as swathes of the country go into lockdown Photo: AFP / Punit PARANJPE