Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Friday said the capital’s crippling shortage of oxygen has been resolved and announced plans to vaccinate the entire city within three months following a meeting with his cabinet ministers to discuss the crisis that has led to thousands of deaths in the past few weeks.
“Now there is no lack of oxygen in Delhi. We should have enough oxygen beds so that no patient is deprived,” he said in the meeting that was attended by Deputy Chief Minister, Health Minister, Health Secretary and District Magistrates.
Mr Kejriwal gave orders for finishing the vaccination drive in the city in the next three months to stave off a possible third wave. The District Magistrates of all districts has been asked to visit 2-4 vaccination centres daily.
With its hospitals struggling for beds and medical oxygen, Delhi has been one of the worst-hit territories as India reported an extra 15 lakh new infections and record daily deaths in the past week in the second wave of the pandemic.
The capital city recorded 335 COVID-19 deaths and 19,133 new cases even as the positivity rate dropped below 25 per cent for the first time since April 18, according to the last bulletin issued by the Delhi health department on Thursday.
The country reported another record daily rise in coronavirus cases, 4,14,188, on Friday. Deaths from COVID-19 rose by 3,915 to 2,34,083.
Medical experts say the real extent of COVID-19 in India is five to 10 times the official tallies.
India’s healthcare system is crumbling under the weight of patients, with hospitals running out of beds and medical oxygen. Morgues and crematoriums can not handle the number of dead and makeshift funeral pyres burn in parks and carparks.
Since the start of the pandemic, it has reported 2.1 crore cases and 2,34,083 deaths. It currently has 36 lakh active cases.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been widely criticised for not acting sooner to suppress the second wave, after religious festivals and political rallies drew tens of thousands of people in recent weeks and became “super spreader” events.
His government has also been criticised for lifting social restrictions too soon following the first wave and for delays in the country’s vaccination programme, which medical experts say is India’s only hope of controlling the second COVID-19 wave.
While India is the world’s biggest vaccine maker, it is struggling to produce and distribute enough doses to stem the wave of COVID-19.
PM Modi has stressed that Indian states must keep up vaccination rates. Although the country has administered at least 15.7 crore vaccine doses, its rate of inoculation has fallen sharply in recent days.