NEW DELHI -- A fire in a COVID-19 hospital ward in western India killed 15 patients early Saturday, as the country grappling with the worst outbreak yet steps up a vaccination drive for all its adults even though some states say don't have enough jabs.
Fifty other patients at the Welfare Hospital in Bharuch, a town in Gujarat state, were rescued by hospital workers and firefighters, said police officer Rajendrasinh Chudasama.
The fire broke out in a COVID-19 ward on the ground floor and was extinguished within an hour, the Press Trust of India news agency quoted the fire service as saying. The cause of the fire is being investigated.
On April 23, a fire in an intensive care unit killed 13 COVID-19 patients in the Virar area on the outskirts of Mumbai.
Faced with an unprecedented surge in cases that has filled hospitals and crematoriums, creating a major crisis in a country of 1.4 billion, the government on Saturday shifted its faltering vaccination campaign into high gear by saying all adults 18 and over were getting their shots.
Some states already said they do not have enough doses for everyone. Even the ongoing effort to inoculate people above 45 is stuttering.
India on Friday reported another global daily record of 386,452 new cases, pushing the overall toll to more than 18.7 million since the pandemic began, second only to the United States. The Health Ministry also reported 3,498 deaths in the last 24 hours, bringing the total to 208,330. Experts believe both figures are an undercount.
Additionally, a CDC team of public health experts was expected to be on the ground soon to help Indian health officials move to slow the spread of the virus.
Other nations have also sent assistance, and the Indian air force airlifted oxygen containers from Singapore, Dubai and Bangkok.