And the devastating effect is evident in the images pouring in from crematoriums across the country - of anguished families waiting for hours to perform last rites, mass cremations as cities run out of space to honour the dead and incessant plumes of smoke from funeral pyres. "Delhi officials have to do their job", the Centre reportedly said.
Sky News correspondent Alex Crawford reported that people were dying on the pavement outside a major hospital in New Delhi.
The horrifying statistics come as the number of COVID-19 jabs administered globally surpassed the one-billion mark on Saturday, offering the world a glimmer of hope.
The pandemic has killed almost 190,000 people in total in the country.
The AAP government on Saturday told the Delhi High Court that the national capital received 309 MT of medical oxygen against the allocated 480 MT on Friday, terming it as the main cause behind the oxygen crisis in the city hospitals.
The observation was made by a bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli as they heard a plea by Maharaja Agrasen Hospital over shortage of oxygen to treat patients.
India has reported 3,46,786 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, setting yet another grim one-day record, taking the overall caseload to 1,62,63,695, according to data from the Union Health Ministry.
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The court said if any official at the central, state or local administration was obstructing in the picking up or supply of oxygen, then it would "hang" that person.
Jaipur Golden Hospital is the second hospital in the city to send an SOS over shortage of oxygen on Saturday morning.
The court asked the government to ensure supplies, as well to make security arrangements for medical centres amid people's desperation.
"We are not fighting elections", Mr Mehta said. India is now the second worst-hit country. The Indian government had itself declared it had beaten back the coronavirus in February when new cases fell to all time lows.
China said that it is in discussion in helping India control its surge in cases. Authorities lifted restrictions, allowing for the resumption of big gatherings. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson also said he is looking at how the United Kingdom could help India.
"While complacency in adhering to masks and physical distancing might have played a role, it seems increasingly likely that this second wave has been fuelled by a much more virulent strain", wrote Vikram Patel, Professor of Global Health at Harvard Medical School, in the Indian Express. It has opened up the immunisation programme to all adults but faces a shortage. It has also approved Russia's Sputnik V and has urged Pfizer Moderna and Johnson and Johnson to provide it with vaccines.