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India Adds Global High 314K Virus Cases04/22 06:16

   India reported a global record of more than 314,000 new infections Thursday 
as a grim coronavirus surge in the world's second-most populous country sends 
more and more sick people into a fragile health care system critically short of 
hospital beds and oxygen.

   NEW DELHI (AP) -- India reported a global record of more than 314,000 new 
infections Thursday as a grim coronavirus surge in the world's second-most 
populous country sends more and more sick people into a fragile health care 
system critically short of hospital beds and oxygen.

   The 314,835 infections added in the past 24 hours raise India's total past 
15.9 million cases since the pandemic began. It's the second-highest total in 
the world next to the United States. India has nearly 1.4 billion people.

   Fatalities rose by 2,104 in the past 24 hours, raising India's overall death 
toll to 184,657, the Health Ministry said.

   A large number of hospitals are reporting acute shortages of beds and 
medicine and are running on dangerously low levels of oxygen.

   The New Delhi High Court on Wednesday ordered the government to divert 
oxygen from industrial use to hospitals to save people's lives. "You can't have 
people die because there is no oxygen. Beg, borrow or steal, it is a national 
emergency," the judges said, responding to a petition by a New Delhi hospital 
seeking the court's intervention.

   The government is rushing oxygen tankers to replenish supplies to hospitals.

   Indian Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said on Thursday that "demand and 
supply is being monitored round the clock." He said in a tweet that to address 
the exponential spike in demand, the government has increased the quota of 
oxygen for the seven worst-hit states.

   Lockdowns and strict curbs have brought pain, fear and agony to many people 
in New Delhi and other cities.

   In scenes familiar across the country, ambulances are rush from one hospital 
to another, trying to find an empty bed. Grieving relatives line up outside 
crematoriums where the number of dead bodies has jumped several times.

   "I get numerous calls every day from patients desperate for a bed. The 
demand is far too much than the supply," said Dr. Sanjay Gururaj, a doctor at 
Bengaluru-based Shanti Hospital and Research Center.

   "I try to find beds for patients every day, and it's been incredibly 
frustrating to not be able to help them. In the last week, three patients of 
mine have died at home because they were unable to get beds. As a doctor, it's 
an awful feeling," Gururaj said.

   Yogesh Dixit, a resident of northern Uttar Pradesh state, said earlier this 
week that he had to buy two oxygen cylinders at 12,000 rupees ($160) each, more 
than twice the normal cost, for his ailing father because the state-run 
hospital in Lucknow had run out of supplies.

   He bought two "because the doctors can ask for another oxygen cylinder at 
any time," he said, adding that he had to sell his wife's jewelry to meet the 
cost.

   The main cremation ground at Lucknow, the state capital, received nearly 200 
bodies on Sunday. "The bodies were everywhere, they were being cremated on 
sidewalks meant for walking. I have never such a flow of dead bodies in my 
life," said Shekhar Chakraborty, 68.

   In Kanpur, also in Uttar Pradesh, 35 temporary platforms have been set up on 
Bithoor-Sidhnath Ghat along the Ganges River to cremate bodies.

   The Health Ministry said that of the country's total production of 7,500 
metric tons (8,300 U.S. tons) of oxygen per day, 6,600 metric tons (7,275 U.S. 
tons) was being allocated for medical use.

   It also said that 75 railroad coaches in the Indian capital have been turned 
into hospitals providing an additional 1,200 beds for COVID-19 patients.

   The Times of India newspaper said that the previous highest daily case count 
of 307,581 was reported in the U.S. on Jan. 8.

 
 
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