Indian Hospitals Desperate for Oxygen as Coronavirus Cases Top 5 Million

Some Indian hospitals scramble for oxygen as coronavirus cases top 5 million

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MUMBAI (Reuters) - Coronavirus infections in India surged past 5 million on Wednesday, piling pressure on hospitals grappling with unreliable supplies of oxygen that they need to treat tens of thousands of critical patients.

In the big states of Maharashtra, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh, some of the areas worst-affected by the virus, demand for oxygen has more than tripled, doctors and government officials said, prompting urgent calls for help.

“Desperate patients have been calling me through the night but I don’t know when I will get stock,” Rishikhesh Patil, an oxygen supplier in the western city of Nashik, told Reuters.

Meanwhile, a senior minister in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet, Nitin Gadkari, also tested positive for the coronavirus infection, he said in a tweet.

India has the world’s fastest growing novel coronavirus epidemic and added its last million infections in just 12 days. It is only the second country in the world to have more than 5 million cases, after the United States.

At least 6% of India’s nearly 1 million active cases need oxygen support, health ministry official Rajesh Bhushan told reporters. Supplies were adequate but state governments should monitor usage and flag shortages, he said.

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