16:40 GMT16 May 2021
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    If devastation had an address, it would be somewhere in Delhi right now. India's capital and home to over 30 million residents is the most COVID-affected city in the country, with 24,331 fresh cases and 348 deaths in the last 24 hours. Amid the steep escalation in COVID numbers, the national capital is gasping for breath – literally.

    In the early hours of the morning, the Jaipur Golden Hospital in Delhi painfully lost twenty patients due to a shortage of medical oxygen. Halfway through the day, the Saroj Hospital located in the Rohini area of Delhi asked the relatives of 140 critical patients to look for alternate arrangements after it ran out of medical oxygen to keep patients alive.

    The oxygen crisis in Delhi is deepening with every second. As the virus rips through the national capital, the shortage of medical supplies, beds, ventilators, dialysis machines, and oxygen cylinders is worsening the situation critically.

    ​This is our shame! As I stood by for Live, I hear the SOS call by Executive Director of Batra hospital in Delhi tell NDTV on-air - oxygen over. "It's over". Tragic tragic words to hear from doctors, who can't even battle to save lives with no oxygen! #COVIDEmergency2021 #COVID19

    ​In a high-level meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 23 April, Delhi Chief Arvind Kejriwal had complained that oxygen supplies were being obstructed on other state borders before entering Delhi – delaying the much-needed deliveries to hospitals. Over the past few days, several major private hospitals in Delhi, including Max and Fortis, have sent out oxygen SOS signals on social media, warning that they could run out of supplies in one hour or even 45 minutes.

    ​Reacting to the grim situation, the Delhi High Court on Saturday said any person obstructing the supply of oxygen to Delhi hospitals "will be hanged".

    As per the Delhi government, which currently fears that its health system will "collapse", the capital needs at least 480 metric tonnes of oxygen, the Hindustan Times reported. On 23 April, Delhi received 297 metric tonnes of the medical gas and the city's hospitals are still running out of oxygen. 

    During the court hearing today, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta and Delhi government lawyer Rahul Mehra went at each other juggling the blame for medical supply shortages between the national ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Delhi-ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) before the court intervened and directed the federal government to tackle the health crisis clouding the capital.

    PM Modi also chaired a high-level meeting on measures to increase supplies of oxygen and oxygen-related equipment.

    The Indian government has decided to grant full a exemption from basic customs duty and health cess on imported oxygen and equipment related to it for a period of three months, effective immediately.

    In a bid to meet the surging demand of oxygen in Delhi as well as other parts of the country, India's Defence Ministry is also airlifting 23 mobile oxygen generating plants from Germany. Each plant will have a capacity to produce 40 litres of oxygen per minute and 2,400 litres every hour.

    ​Indian railways are also running special "oxygen express" trains to transport the gas from one part of the country to another.

    In the last 24 hours, India reported the world's highest fresh coronavirus tally, 346,786 infections along with 2,624 deaths. The country now has more than 2.55 million active cases, with 189,549 deaths reported so far as per the Health Ministry.

    After administering over 12 million vaccine doses, as claimed by the federal government, the "world's largest inoculation drive" being held in India will open for all above the age of 18 on 1 May. 

    Sputnik Radio, Sputnik News, Sputnik, Sputnik, Sputnik, Sputnik, coronavirus, COVID-19, Narendra Modi, Narendra Modi, death, death, Death, death, hospital, hospital, hospital, hospital, oxygen, Oxygen, oxygen, Indians
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