India reported a global record of more than 314,000 new infections Thursday as a grim coronavirus surge in the world's second-most populous country sends more and more sick people into a fragile health care system critically short of hospital beds and oxygen. The 314,835 infections added in the past 24 hours raise India's total past 15.9 million cases since the pandemic began, the AP reports. It's the second-highest total in the world next to the United States. India has nearly 1.4 billion people. Fatalities rose by 2,104 in the past 24 hours, raising India's overall death toll to 184,657, the Health Ministry said.
A large number of hospitals are reporting acute shortages of beds and medicine and are running on dangerously low levels of oxygen. The New Delhi High Court on Wednesday ordered the government to divert oxygen from industrial use to hospitals to save people’s lives. "You can't have people die because there is no oxygen. Beg, borrow or steal, it is a national emergency," the judges said, responding to a petition by a New Delhi hospital seeking its intervention. The previous world record for the most new COVID cases recorded in a single day was 300,669 in the US on Jan. 8 this year, reports the New York Times. (An accident at a COVID hospital in India killed 22 people Wednesday.)