Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Saturday gave a dire warning, saying that the city was fast running out of beds, oxygen and the life-saving drug Remdesivir as it recorded an unprecedented 24,000 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours.
The positivity rate had reached a huge 24 per cent – meaning one in four of all people being tested were coming out positive, he said.
“The situation is very serious and worrisome,” Mr Kejriwal said. “Cases have gone up really fast. That is why we are facing shortages even though everything seemed under control until a few days ago. But the speed at which this corona is growing, no one knows where its peak will be,” he added.
“Any health infrastructure has limitations. The government is trying its best to increase the number of beds. I hope that we will be able to add 6,000 more beds in the next two to four days,” he said.
Delhi led major cities across India into a weekend lockdown Saturday as the country confronts a fierce new coronavirus wave, with more than 2.3 lakh fresh daily cases that has left many states struggling for drugs and hospital beds.
Hopes that the country might have beaten the pandemic have been dashed with India seeing over 20 lakh new cases this month alone.
The country added another record 2.34 lakh cases Saturday to pass 1.45 crore overall and 1,341 deaths took its pandemic total to 175,649 deaths.
The per-capita rates remain low by international comparison, but the speed at which cases are rising led the international Red Cross to call the surge “truly frightening”.
India now has three times the daily cases of the United States, the world’s worst-hit country.
Hospitals across the country are running short of oxygen and widely prescribed medicines such as Remdesivir and Fabiflu, prompting desperate people to pay exorbitant black market rates.
After a national lockdown a year ago led to an economic slump, the Indian government is desperate to avoid a second stoppage. But Delhi joined Mumbai in ordering all but essential services to close.
The city of more than 2 crore people now has the most daily cases in India and restaurants, malls and gyms were all closed. Weddings can go ahead with guests limited to 50 people, while only 20 can attend funerals.
(WIth inputs from agencies)