Graveyards and crematoriums across India are struggling to cope with a surging number of deaths. The country has been hit by a new wave and a double mutant virus that has seen it record one million positive tests in a week, and left authorities rattled. Courtesy #DStv403
NEW DELHI - India's brutal new COVID-19 outbreak set records on Wednesday with more than 2,000 deaths in 24 hours as hospitals in New Delhi ran perilously low on oxygen.
India has been in the grips of a second wave of infections blamed on lax government rules and a new "double mutant" virus variant, adding almost 3.5 million new cases this month alone.
Health ministry data on Wednesday showed a record 2,023 fatalities and 295,000 new cases in 24 hours, among the world's biggest daily case totals and on a par with numbers seen in the United States during a deadly surge in January.
In an address to the nation on Tuesday night, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that the country of 1.3 billion people was "once again fighting a big fight".
"The situation was under control till a few weeks back, and then this second corona wave came like a storm," he said.
There had been hopes that despite its packed cities and poor health care, India had managed to dodge largely unscathed a pandemic that has killed more than three million people around the world.
Recent weeks have seen mass gatherings including millions attending the Kumbh Mela religious festival, political rallies as well as lavish weddings and cricket matches against England.
Production of key coronavirus drugs slowed or even halted at some factories and there were delays inviting bids for oxygen generation plants, according to press reports.
Distraught relatives are now being forced to pay exorbitant rates on the black market for medicine and oxygen and WhatsApp groups are awash with desperate pleas for help.
"I am scared for my parents and relatives more than I am scared for myself because they are not young anymore and getting admitted into a hospital right now is next to impossible," one Delhi resident told AFP.