India has recorded more than 200,000 new coronavirus infections in a single day as hospitals report severe shortages of beds and oxygen and extra space is found in hotels.
A doctor in New Delhi said he is treating 35-year-olds for pneumonia and the situation is “chaotic”.
The record number of daily cases – 200,739 – takes the total past 14m, second only to the United States.
It is the seventh record daily increase in the last eight days.
The country’s health ministry has also reported a further 1,038 COVID-19 deaths in the latest 24-hour period, taking the total to 173,123, in a population of almost 1.4bn.
Boris Johnson has decided to shorten a trip he is due to take to India later this month because of the worsening situation.
The financial hub of Mumbai – India’s largest city – has gone into lockdown. The state of Maharashtra, home to Mumbai, accounts for about a quarter of all coronavirus infections.
Hospitals in Maharashtra, and in other areas including Gujarat and Delhi, have reported being overwhelmed.
“The situation is horrible. We are a 900-bed hospital, but there are about 60 patients waiting and we don’t have space for them,” said Avinash Gawande, an official at the Government Medical College and Hospital in Nagpur.
Doctors in the capital fear the surge could be more deadly than last year’s.
“This virus is more infectious and virulent,” said Dhiren Gupta, a paediatrician at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in New Delhi.
“We have 35-year-olds with pneumonia in intensive care, which was not happening last year. The situation is chaotic.”
More than a dozen hotels and banqueting halls in the capital have been converted into COVID centres attached to hospitals, while medical facilities in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state of Gujarat reported oxygen shortages.
The government said oxygen is being produced at full capacity.
“Along with the ramped up production of the oxygen manufacturing units and the surplus stocks available, the present availability of oxygen is sufficient,” the health ministry said in a statement.
It is feared that recent local and state elections, involving huge rallies, may have been super-spreader events.
There has also been a major Hindu festival, with hundreds of thousands of devotees bathing in the Ganges river in the northern city of Haridwar.
The health ministry said more than three million vaccine doses were administered on Wednesday, with the total now past 114 million.