The Supreme Court in India has ordered the government to submit a plan to meet New Delhi hospitals’ oxygen needs within the next 24 hours.
The court decided against immediately punishing officials for failing to end a 2-week-old erratic supply of oxygen to overstretched hospitals.
“Ultimately putting officers in jail or hauling officers for contempt will not bring oxygen. Please tell us steps to solve this,” Justice Dhananjaya Yeshwant Chandrachud said.
Raghav Chaddha, a spokesman for the Aam Aadmi Party governing New Delhi, said hospitals were getting only 40% of their 700 metric ton (772 U.S. ton) daily needs through the federal government, and the local government was arranging additional supplies to meet the shortfall and setting up new oxygen plants.
A massive wave of infections since April has pushed India’s health care system to the brink, with people begging for oxygen cylinders and hospital beds on social media and news channels.
With 382,315 new confirmed cases on Wednesday and 3,780 deaths in the last 24 hours, India’s COVID-19 tally has risen to more than 20.6 million since the pandemic began.
The government is currently facing calls for a strict lockdown to slow a devastating surge in coronavirus infections.
Bodies have been piling up at cremation grounds and in graveyards with relatives waiting for hours for last rites.