By Vatican News staff reporter
Health services in India are at crisis point as they struggle to deal with a huge surge in cases of COVID-19.
The country set a new record in daily infections on Thursday with 314,835 people diagnosed with the virus.
Health officials across northern and western India, including New Delhi, are inundated with cases and many hospitals are running out of oxygen.
Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain said there was a shortage of intensive care unit beds, and thousands were needed.
On the vaccine front, India has launched a vaccination campaign but only a small number of the population have had the jab.
Some experts say new, more infectious virus variants, in particular a "double mutant" variant that originated in India, are largely responsible for the surge, but blame is also being laid at the door of politicians.
Last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government ordered an extensive lockdown in the early stages of the pandemic, but has been wary of the economic impact of tougher measures.
In recent weeks, the government has been criticized for holding packed political rallies for local elections and allowing a Hindu festival at which millions gathered.
This week, Mr Modi urged state governments to use lockdowns as a last resort. He also asked people to stay indoors and said the government was working to increase the supply of oxygen and vaccines.
India's total cases are now at 15.93 million, while deaths rose by 2,104 to reach a total of 184,657.
As the situation becomes critical U.S. drugmaker Pfizer said on Thursday it is in discussions with India and committed to making its COVID-19 vaccine available for distribution in the country.