At 9:45 p.m., alarms blared across the intensive care unit of Jaipur Golden Hospital. Over two dozen patients on ventilators couldn’t breathe. Some flailed their arms and legs. Others cried for help, choking sounds coming from their throats as if they were being strangled.
Mechanics sprinted to the maintenance room to see what was wrong. Nurses grabbed small plastic pumps to fill the lungs of critically ill patients by hand.
It wasn’t enough. Jaipur Golden, a respected hospital in Delhi, had run out of medical oxygen. Over the next seven hours, 21 coronavirus patients died.
“Nobody can forget that night,” said Shaista Nigar, the hospital’s nursing superintendent. “It was a total breakdown.”
Across India, amid a devastating second wave of Covid-19, hospitals ran out of beds and critical supplies, contributing to the deaths of untold thousands of people and worsening an already tragic outbreak. By one count, oxygen shortages alone have killed at least 600 people over the past two months.