World battles to help keep India breathing

Vital medical supplies were reaching India yesterday as hospitals lacking oxygen turned away coronavirus sufferers.

A shipment from Britain including 100 ventilators and 95 oxygen concentrators arrived in Delhi, while France was sending oxygen generators able to provide 250 patients with a year’s worth of the gas.

And the first “Oxygen Express” train pulled into New Delhi with about 70 tonnes of oxygen from an eastern state.

Even China, in a military standoff with India on their disputed Himalayan border, was yesterday trying to get medical supplies to its neighbor.

And the World Health Organization was working to deliver 4,000 oxygen concentrators to the country, where a “perfect storm” of mass Hindu religious gatherings, contagious variants and low vaccination rates worsened the situation.

But the crisis has not abated in the capital city of 20 million at the epicenter of the latest wave of infections.

“For seven days most of us haven’t slept,” said K Preetham, an administrator at the Indian Spinal Injuries Centre, and a lack of oxygen was the big worry. “We’re forced to put two patients on one cylinder.”

The 323,144 new cases over 24 hours was less than the world-record number of 352,991 on Monday, and 2,771 deaths took the toll to 197,894.

But fewer infections were largely due to a drop in testing, health economist Rijo John of the Indian Institute of Management in Kerala state said.

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