The Indian Embassy in Saudi Arabia said that 80 tons of oxygen were shipped to India as the country suffers from oxygen shortages amid a devastating surge in coronavirus cases.
“Our sincere thanks to the Ministry of Health in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for its help, support and cooperation,” the embassy tweeted.
India’s hospitals overcrowded with coronavirus infections are experiencing oxygen shortages. In a bid to ease the crisis, the government has deployed military planes and trains to deliver oxygen from the far reaches of the country to Delhi.
Local television showed an oxygen truck arriving at Batra Hospital in Delhi after it raised the alarm saying it only had 90 minutes of oxygen supply for its 260 patients.
The Indian embassy added that it is securing 5,000 other medical oxygen cylinders from Saudi Arabia.
India recorded 354,531 new infections, accompanied by 2,767 deaths in the past 24 hours. The country has recorded more than one million cases in the past three days. The terrifying surge of coronavirus infections in the country raised the global cases to 147 million. While the global death toll has hiked to 3.11 million.
Oxygen shortages have been rampant inside and outside New Delhi. The Indian government announced that any laxity in the delivery of commercial oxygen supplies to hospitals will lead to death sentences for those responsible.
The Indian virologist Shahid Jameel told the British newspaper “The Daily Mail” that new infections could reach 500,000 cases per day in the first week of May. The average fatality rate in India is currently 1.14% per 100,000 people.
This means that reaching the epidemic peak will lead to 5,700 deaths per day. Western correspondents described the situation in India as a “pandemic tsunami.” New Delhi newspapers reported many deaths due to lack of oxygen in hospitals.
Hospital managers stated that their hospital supplies were delayed by more than 6-7 hours, which caused the death of several patients in the intensive care rooms. Shocking images showed frightening scenes of the increasing number of bodies in crematoriums near New Delhi. Relatives of the deceased were forced to cremate the bodies of their loved ones in front of hospitals.
The Indian newspapers indicated that oxygen shipments were getting delayed at state borders. The government of the state of the capital, New Delhi, announced that it decided to extend the closure of the capital for another week, until next Monday.
New Delhi needs 700 tons of oxygen, while the central government has been able to provide only 400 tons. In a bid to handle the crisis, the government decided to operate Air force flights to transport oxygen supplies from inside and outside the country, especially from Singapore.
The United States announced that it was working closely with the Indian government to provide US aid to the country. Many hospitals, especially in the capital, New Delhi, are displaying signs outside announcing that there are no vacant beds.
The New York Times reported that Indians are dying from the epidemic while waiting to meet doctors. It noted that despite the high records of infections and deaths, these official figures are much less than what is happening on the ground. NYT added that interviews with crematorium workers concluded that these never-extinguishing fires devoured several bodies far exceeding the government’s daily death count.
The tragedy of the Indian health crisis is causing a delay in vaccination campaigns in the world, especially in poor and developing countries. The crisis would directly impact the African continent in particular. It is known that Africa relies on vaccines produced by the Indian Serology Institute, which is the largest vaccine manufacturer in the world.
However, the Indian government decided to prevent the export of any of the factory’s products, to ensure that all production was directed to combat the epidemic in the country. 70 countries – before the outbreak of the current crisis – received about 60 million doses of vaccines manufactured in India, through the COVAX initiative sponsored by the World Health Organization.