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Fire kills patients in second India hospital disaster this week, as coronavirus cases surge to record level

An intensive care unit in the aftermath of a fire at a hospital in Virar, India, on Friday. (AP) (AP)
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A fire that broke out at a hospital in western India killed at least 14 coronavirus patients Friday, authorities said, as the embattled nation reported another record-shattering number of new cases and officials in the capital scrambled to secure fresh oxygen supplies.

The blaze came two days after an oxygen leak at another Indian hospital left more than 20 covid-19 patients dead.

The country’s health infrastructure is buckling under the wave of infections, including the more than 332,000 new cases reported Friday. The figure means India has surpassed the global record it had set for new cases just one day before.

Oxygen leak leaves 22 covid patients dead at a hospital in India

Health authorities also registered more than 2,200 coronavirus fatalities. Some experts warned this was probably a vast undercount, as mass burning sites were erected to cremate the dead.

On the outskirts of Mumbai, India’s financial capital, the fire Friday in the intensive care unit of Vijay Vallabh Hospital was under investigation after 14 patients were killed, local media reported.

As word of the fire spread, the country was still reeling from the news that more than 20 coronavirus patients on ventilators had died because of an oxygen leak in a hospital in Nashik, also in the hard-hit state of Maharashtra.

India’s devastating outbreak is driving the global coronavirus surge

In a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday, the chief minister of Delhi state, Arvind Kejriwal, said his region was facing an acute oxygen shortage — and challenged the central government to provide supplies.

“There is a huge shortage of oxygen in Delhi. Will [the] people of Delhi not get oxygen if there is no oxygen-producing plant here?” Kejriwal said, as reported by India’s ANI news agency.

Roadblocks and other logistical bottlenecks have hindered the transport of oxygen cylinders between states.

“Please suggest whom should I speak to in [the] central government when an oxygen tanker destined for Delhi is stopped in another state,” he said.

Read more:

[India grapples with vaccine shortages as infections surge to record]

[India’s abrupt lockdown forced millions to walk, bike and hitchhike home]

[Massive second wave of infections is emerging in India, pitting the virus against the vaccine rollout]

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