After having largely tamed the virus a year ago, India is in the throes of the world's worst coronavirus surge and numerous country's hospitals are struggling to cope with shortages of beds, medicines and oxygen.
Hospitals across the city - government and private - have been facing an acute shortage of liquid oxygen as demand is high and supply has been hampered, sometimes because of a tussle between state governments and sometimes because of lack of cryogenic tankers.
The number of cases across the country of around 1.3 billion rose overnight by 346,786, the health ministry said, for a total of 16.6 million, including 189,544 deaths.
The Press Trust of India news agency reported 25 Covid-19 patients had died at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in the past 24 hours and the lives of another 60 were at risk amid a serious oxygen supply crisis.
India's surge is expected to peak in mid-May with the daily count of infections reaching half a million, the Indian Express said citing an internal government assessment.
A man reacts next to the body of his father who died from COVID-19 at a crematorium in New Delhi India
India's medical oxygen shortage has become so dire that a Sikh house of worship began offering free breathing sessions with shared tanks to COVID-19 patients waiting for a hospital bed.
"We believe it is important to work together to identify both bottlenecks in medical supply chains and potential solutions for overcoming these [bottlenecks], and to combat the global pandemic together and expedite ongoing vaccination efforts", the spokesman said.
The demand for oxygen from hospitals has almost tripled to 8,000 metric tons (8,800 tons), the federal government told the Delhi High Court last week.
The drama is in direct contrast with government claims that "nobody in the country was left without oxygen", in a statement made Saturday by India's Solicitor General Tushar Mehta before Delhi High Court.
"It's not the virus variants and mutations which are a key cause of the current rise in infections", Dr. Anant Bhan, a bioethics and global health expert, tweeted this week.More news: Deaths and desperation in India’s capital as COVID cases rise
Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah as well as opposition politicians this month took part in mass election rallies in five populous states with tens of thousands of supporters who were not wearing masks or social distancing.
The government has deployed military planes and trains to get oxygen to Delhi from the far corners of the country and overseas including Singapore. The Supreme Court told Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government last week that it wanted a national plan for the supply of oxygen and essential drugs for the treatment of coronavirus patients.
The shortage of oxygen at hospitals across the country had compelled Indian railways to run oxygen express trains by sourcing the gas from steel plants.
When the news anchor asked Bankata what happens when a hospital issues an SOS call as his had done, Bankata replied: "Nothing".
Now, hospitals officials are using social media to plead with authorities to replenish their oxygen supplies.More news: Morrison government quashes Victoria's belt and road deal with China
Hours later, the hospital received supplies to run for few hours.
Additional medical oxygen has been trucked into the capital from industrial zones in eastern India.
As the oxygen scarcity deepened, local officials in several states disrupted movement of tankers and diverted supplies to their areas. Days before, the news agency reported, a minister in Haryana blamed Delhi authorities for looting an oxygen tanker when it was crossing their territory.
Others said that it could also be a more unsafe variant of the virus coursing through India.
Others said that it could also be a more risky variant of the virus coursing through the world's second most populous country where people live in close proximity, often six to a room.More news: Family: 15-year-old girl shot, killed by police in Columbus, Ohio