Twenty-five “sickest” coronavirus patients have died at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in Delhi in the last 24 hours amid a last-minute scramble for oxygen, ANI reported on Friday. In a statement released around 8 am on Friday, the director of the hospital warned that they had oxygen for only two more hours and that 60 more patients were at risk.

The hospital said authorities were resorting to manual ventilation in Intensive Care Units and the emergency department. “Major crisis likely...Need urgent intervention,” the statement added.

Citing sources, reports said that low oxygen pressure could have led to the deaths of 25 patients. However, the hospital’s chairperson DS Rana said all of the deaths could not be linked to oxygen shortage, NDTV reported. “I would not ascribe the deaths to oxygen shortage,” Rana said. “A large number of patients are in serious condition in hospital. But we are facing severe oxygen shortage.”

Medical Director Satendra Katoch offered another version. “Low oxygen concentration likely contributed to deaths of critical patients,” he said. “Critical patients need high pressure, stable oxygen supply.”

ANI visuals from 9.45 am showed oxygen tankers arriving at the hospital.

Ganga Ram Hospital, one of Delhi’s top private facilities, is treating 510 coronavirus patients, according to News18. This includes 142 patients on high flow oxygen support.

Over the last few days, several hospitals in Delhi have said that they were in crisis as they were running out of oxygen. The demand for oxygen is likely to rise since coronavirus cases are growing exponentially in the country due to the second wave of the pandemic. Max Hospitals and Saroj Super Specialty Hospital in Delhi’s Rohini area had moved the Delhi High Court, seeking urgent assistance to sort out the crisis.

On Thursday, the High Court had directed the Centre to ensure that oxygen supplies and its transportation remained undisrupted. It asked the government to provide adequate security to the transporting vehicles and create special corridors.

Hours before that, the Centre had ordered that no restrictions should be imposed on the movement of medical oxygen between states. Prime Minister Narendra Modi also asked state governments to “come down heavily” on those who are hoarding oxygen used to treat coronavirus patients as several states faced shortages.

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India on Friday reported a record-breaking 3,32,730 new cases, taking the total number of infections to 1,62,63,695 since the pandemic broke out in January 2020. This is also the highest ever single-day rise in cases reported by any country so far. India first hit the grim milestone of more than 3 lakh cases on Thursday, when it logged 3.14 lakh infections in a day.

For the first time, 2,263 deaths were recorded. The toll rose to 1,86,920.

India’s healthcare infrastructure is reeling under the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic as thousands of new coronavirus cases emerge every day. This has led to the chronic shortage of oxygen supplies, beds and timely medical care across several states.