India's total cases are now at 15.93 million, while deaths rose by 2,104 to reach a total of 184,657.
India on Thursday reported 314,835 new cases of the novel coronavirus over the previous 24 hours, the world's largest one-day rise in case numbers, a grim reminder of the threat still posed by the virus. Deaths rose by a record 2,104.
The second wave and similar surges elsewhere raised new fears about the ability of health services to cope.
Hospitals across northern and western India including the capital, New Delhi, have issued notices to say they have only a few hours of medical oxygen required to keep COVID-19 patients alive.
Workers prepare to take out bodies of six victims of COVID-19 from an ambulance for cremation in New Delhi. AP
More than two-thirds of hospitals had no vacant beds, according to the Delhi government's online data base and doctors advised patients to stay at home.
"The situation is very critical," Dr Kirit Gadhvi, president of the Medical Association in the western city of Ahmedabad, told Reuters.
"Patients are struggling to get beds in COVID-19 hospitals. There is especially acute shortage of oxygen."
Krutika Kuppalli, assistant professor at the Division of Infectious Diseases, Medical University of South Carolina in the United States, said on Twitter the crisis was leading to a collapse of the healthcare system.
The previous record one-day rise in cases was held by the United States, which had 297,430 new cases on one day in January, though its tally has since fallen sharply.
India's total cases are now at 15.93 million, while deaths rose by 2,104 to reach a total of 184,657, according to the latest health ministry data.
A COVID-19 patient wearing an oxygen mask waits inside an autorickshaw to be attended in Ahmedabad, India. AP
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 relatives in hospital.
"We never thought a second wave would hit us so hard," Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, the executive chairman of Biocon & Biocon Biologics, an Indian healthcare firm, wrote in the Economic Times.
"Complacency led to unanticipated shortages of medicines, medical supplies and hospital beds."
Similar surges of infections elsewhere, in South America in particular, are threatening to overwhelm other health services.
India reported a record daily increase of 234,692 COVID-19 infections over the last 24 hours, health ministry data showed on Saturday. It was the eighth record daily increase in the last nine days.
A record surge of 55,079 new cases in the past 24 hours took India’s coronavirus caseload past 1.6 million, as the government decided to lift a nighttime curfew that has been in force since late March.
Infections have been reported in more than 210 countries and territories since the first cases were identified in China in December 2019.
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