India sets another daily record of 346,000 COVID cases as virus patients suffocate amid oxygen shortage in surge

Coronavirus
A woman reacts as she receives the AstraZeneca vaccine for COVID-19 at an apartment building in Bengaluru, India, Saturday, April 24, 2021. Indian authorities are scrambling to get medical oxygen to hospitals where COVID-19 patients are suffocating from low supplies. The effort Saturday comes as the country with the world's worst coronavirus surge set a new global daily record of infections for the third straight day. The 346,786 infections over the past day brought India's total past 16 million. (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi)

A woman reacts as she receives the AstraZeneca vaccine for COVID-19 at an apartment building in Bengaluru, India, Saturday, April 24, 2021. Indian authorities are scrambling to get medical oxygen to hospitals where COVID-19 patients are suffocating from low supplies. The effort Saturday comes as the country with the world’s worst coronavirus surge set a new global daily record of infections for the third straight day. The 346,786 infections over the past day brought India’s total past 16 million. (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi)

SRINAGAR, India — For the third day in a row, India set a global daily record with 346,786 coronavirus cases.

That increased India’s total to more than 16 million cases behind only the United States. The Health Ministry reported another 2,624 deaths in the past 24 hours, pushing India’s confirmed death toll to 189,544.

Indian authorities scrambled Saturday to get oxygen tanks to hospitals where COVID-19 patients were suffocating amid the world’s worst coronavirus surge, while the government came under increasing criticism for what doctors said was its negligence in the face of a foreseeable public health disaster.

Families are waiting for days to cremate their loved ones at overburdened crematoriums with many turning to makeshift facilities for last rites.

Health experts and critics say a downward trend in infections late last year lulled authorities into complacency, and they failed to plug the holes in the ailing health care system that had become evident during the first wave. They also blame politicians and government authorities for allowing super-spreader events, including religious festivals and election rallies, to take place as recently as this month.

“It’s not the virus variants and mutations which are a key cause of the current rise in infections,” Dr. Anant Bhan, a bioethics and global health expert, tweeted this week. “It’s the variants of ineptitude and abdication of public health thinking by our decision makers.”

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