NEW DELHI — Indian hospitals and government leaders scrambled for supplies of oxygen and other emergency aid on Friday, as the country reported another record number of new coronavirus infections and a rising death toll that has strained the country’s resources.
India recorded more than 330,000 new cases in 24 hours, the health ministry said on Friday, the second consecutive day that the country has set a global record for daily infections. The reported death toll on Friday was more than 2,200, also a new high for the country.
About half of the cases in Delhi, the capital city of more than 20 million people, are testing positive for a more contagious variant of the virus, first detected last year in India, that is afflicting younger people, said a health ministry official, Sujeet Singh.
It is unclear to what extent the variant is driving the surge in cases around the country, with large gatherings of unmasked people and widespread neglect of preventive measures also suspected.
at least 22 patients were killed in a hospital in the city of Nashik, also in Maharashtra, after a leak cut off their oxygen supplies.
continued to hold mass rallies with thousands of people unmasked. The government has also allowed an enormous Hindu festival to draw millions of pilgrims despite signs that it has accelerated the spread of the virus.
“Leadership really matters. We saw the early loosening of appropriate measures. Election rallies continued, and religious festivals turned into superspreader events,” said Krishna Udayakumar, an associate professor of global health and director of the Duke Global Health Innovation Center.
“There was perhaps a lost opportunity to learn from the first wave,” Mr. Udayakumar said. That initial wave peaked in August and September, months after India abandoned a nationwide lockdown that crippled the economy.