Health officials have warned that hospitals in New Delhi could run out of oxygen by tomorrow, and as cases surge to unprecedented levels in the world’s second most populous country, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi today addressed the nation. He said the oxygen demand is felt in many parts of the country, and federal, state, and private groups are working to bolster the supply, according to the Times of India.
Modi also said efforts are underway to increase hospital bed capacity, with large dedicated COVID-19 facilities under construction in some cities. However, he urged India’s states to only consider lockdowns as a last resort and opt for establishing “micro containment zones.”
Indian experts have said a combination of social mixing, relaxed measures, and more transmissible variants—including B1617, first seen in India—are fueling the country’s massive second surge. Political rallies in some states and a large Hindu religious gathering on the banks of the Ganges River in the city of Hardiwar are also playing a role in virus spread, and the Modi’s political party announced it will no longer hold large rallies in West Bengal state and will cap attendance at 500, according to CNN.