* India's daily infections at record
* Delhi hospitals scramble as oxygen supplies run out
* One of three in Delhi tests positive for COVID-19
(Updates death toll, adds details on new curbs imposed by
Maharashtra state, directive by German consulate)
SATARA, India, April 21 (Reuters) - At least 24 COVID-19
patients in western India died on Wednesday when the oxygen
supply to their ventilators ran out, amid a nationwide shortage
of the gas and a surge in infections.
Maharashtra State Health Minister Rajesh Tope confirmed the
deaths at a hospital in Nashik city and said the hospital's
oxygen supply ran out because a tanker refilling it suffered a
leak. Oxygen was running scarce throughout the country.
"The leakage was spotted at the tank supplying oxygen for
these patients. The interrupted supply could be linked to the
deaths of the patients in the hospital," Tope said.
Hospitals in Delhi, the capital, and elsewhere have warned
that their supplies of medical oxygen given to severely ill
COVID-19 patients are running low.
Max Healthcare, the largest private sector healthcare
provider in Delhi and its suburbs, said some of its hospitals
had barely two hours' supply of oxygen.
Television showed images of people with empty oxygen
cylinders crowding refilling facilities in the most populous
state of Uttar Pradesh, as they scrambled to save stricken
relatives in hospital.
The situation was so severe that some people tried to loot
an oxygen tanker, forcing authorities to beef up security,
according to the health minister of the northern state of
India now faces a coronavirus "storm" overwhelming its
health system, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a national
address on Tuesday, adding that authorities were working with
states and private firms to deliver oxygen with speed.
Authorities in Maharashtra, which is already under partial
lockdown, late on Wednesday ordered additional restrictions on
the movement of people within the city and state until May 1 to
curb the coronavirus' spread.
The order said all offices, except those providing essential
services, must operate with 15% staff. Travel by private
vehicles is permitted only for medical emergencies, and only
medical workers and government employees may ride the normally
popular train system.
India, the world's second-most populous nation reported
295,041 new coronavirus infections on Wednesday - the biggest
daily rise reported in any country - stretching its hospitals to
breaking point, officials said.
Only the United States had a slightly higher one-day rise of
297,430 cases in January, though its tally has since fallen
sharply. India's 2,023 deaths were also its highest in the
Adding to the sense of alarm, the Serum Institute of India,
which manufactures the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine,
said it will not be able to raise its monthly output to 100
million doses from the current 60 million-70 million until July,
compared to its previous forecast of late May.
The delay could slow India's immunisation drive, which the
government has opened for all adults from next month to try to
stem the deadly second wave.
Health experts said India had let its guard down when the
virus seemed to be under control during the winter, allowing big
gatherings such as weddings and festivals.
Modi is himself facing criticism for addressing packed
political rallies for local elections and allowing a religious
festival to go ahead where millions gathered.
India has so far administered nearly 130 million doses of
vaccine, the most in the world after the United States and China
but still small relative to its population of 1.35 billion
Vaccine doses have run short in many states though
inoculations are currently restricted to frontline workers and
those aged above 45.
Germany on Wednesday warned its citizens in India that the
health risk of staying in the country had "considerably"
increased due to shortage of beds in hospitals.
(Global vaccination tracker: https://graphics.reuters.com/world-coronavirus-tracker-and-maps/vaccination-rollout-and-access/)
(Additional reporting by Neha Arora, Aditya Kalra, Devjyot
Ghoshal, Krishna N.Das and Danish Siddiqui in New Delhi, Sachin
Ravikumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani and Cynthia