A private hospital in Manipur’s capital city Imphal on Friday indefinitely suspended admission of new patients, saying it had run out of medical oxygen amid a surge in coronavirus cases.

In a notice issued to the hospital’s top executives, Raj Medicity’s Medical Superintendent Narendra Singh said it will only be able to provide casualty and emergency services for the time being. “All concerned are requested to bear the inconvenience caused,” the notice added.

A senior state official told Scroll.in that Manipur was facing an acute shortage of oxygen supplies. “What we really need now is at least 200 cylinders that we can send to Assam for refilling,” the official said. “That will help us tide over the immediate crisis.”

As a fierce second wave of the pandemic rampages through the country, cases have steadily risen in Manipur over the last few weeks. On Friday, the state recorded 726 new infections and 16 deaths, taking its infection tally since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020 to over 36,000. The toll stood at 552.

The surge in infections has overwhelmed the country’s healthcare system, leading to a severe oxygen crisis, with patients dying outside hospitals, in ambulances and in car parks, gasping for air.

At the peak of the crisis, multiple hospitals were forced to approach courts to ensure they receive supplies of medical oxygen to save lives of Covid-19 patients. Several others sent out desperate SOS messages on social media as supplies ran dangerously low.

Hundreds of patients admitted to hospitals in Goa, Delhi, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra also died after supplies of oxygen were either disrupted or exhausted.