0851 GMT January 21, 2022
India’s new coronavirus infections hit a record peak for a fifth day on Monday as countries including Iran, the United States and Germany pledged to send urgent medical aid to help battle the crisis overwhelming its hospitals.
Infections in the last 24 hours rose to 352,991, with overcrowded hospitals in Delhi and elsewhere turning away patients after running out of supplies of medical oxygen and beds, Reuters reported.
“Currently the hospital is in beg-and-borrow mode and it is an extreme crisis situation,” said a spokesman for the Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in the capital, New Delhi.
On Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged all citizens to get vaccinated and exercise caution, while hospitals and doctors have put out urgent notices saying they were unable to cope with the rush of patients.
In some of the worst-hit cities, including New Delhi, bodies were being burnt in makeshift facilities offering mass services.
India, with a population of 1.3 billion, has a tally of 17.31 million infections and 195,123 deaths, after 2,812 deaths overnight, health ministry data showed, although health experts say the death count is probably far higher.
The scale of the second wave knocked oil prices on Monday, as traders worried about a fall in fuel demand in the world’s third-biggest oil importer.
Iran offers technical assistance
Iran’s Health Minister Saeed Namaki, in a letter to his Indian counterpart Harsh Vardhan on Sunday, said Tehran is ready to offer "technical assistance, expertise and equipment in these difficult days and at the height of the plight of the dear citizens of India".
"Managing this pandemic is possible only with solidarity, cooperation and assistance of all countries in the shadow of equity, elimination of discrimination and sanctions, as well as the fair access to all effective facilities in prevention, diagnosis and treatment for each needy people of the world and political, expertise and economic support of international organizations and non-governmental organizations," the letter from Namaki read, ANI News wrote.
US under criticism
The United States has come under criticism from several quarters for not releasing surplus COVID-19 vaccines to India when the country is experiencing its worst-ever public health crisis.
Indian-American Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi urged the administration of President Joe Biden to release doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to countries currently experiencing the deadly surge in COVID-19 cases.
"When people in India and elsewhere desperately need help, we can't let vaccines sit in a warehouse, we need to get them where they'll save lives," he said, according Business Insider.
Biden said Washington would send raw materials for vaccines, medical equipment and protective gear to India. Germany joined a growing list of countries pledging to send supplies.
Modi’s plea on vaccinations came after inoculations peaked at 4.5 million doses on April 5, but have since averaged about 2.7 million a day, government figures show.
Several states, including Maharashtra, the richest, halted vaccinations in some places on Sunday, saying supplies were not available.
Supply has fallen short of demand as the inoculation campaign was widened this month, while companies struggle to boost output, partly because of a shortage of raw material and a fire at a facility making the AstraZeneca dose.