India recorded more than 300,000 Covid-19 infections over the last 24 hours, the highest daily global total, while coronavirus related deaths also jumped by a record.
India’s daily jump of 314,835 cases surpasses the previous highest one-day rise in the world of 297,430 cases posted by the United States in January.
India’s total cases are now at 15.93 million, the world’s second highest, while deaths rose by 2,104 to reach a total of 184,657, according to health ministry data.
The tsunami of coronavirus infections, blamed on a “double mutant” variant and “super-spreader” mass gatherings, in the world’s second-most populous nation has stretched its long-underfunded healthcare system to a breaking point.
A large number of hospitals are reporting acute shortages of beds and medicine and are running on dangerously low levels of oxygen.
At least 24 COVID-19 patients died in western India’s Maharashtra state on Wednesday when the oxygen supply to their ventilators ran out due to a leak, amid a nationwide shortage of medical oxygen, hospital beds and medicines.
Health experts say India let its guard down when the virus seemed to be under control during the winter, allowing big gatherings such as weddings and festivals.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is himself facing criticism for addressing packed political rallies for local elections and allowing a Hindu festival to go ahead where millions gathered.
Modi said in an address to the nation on Tuesday night that “all efforts are being made” to boost supplies of medical oxygen.