Hospital fire kills 15 virus patients as India steps up jabs

A relative of a person who died of COVID-19 mourns at a crematorium in Jammu, in Jammu, India, Friday, April 30, 2021.  Indian scientists appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to publicly release virus data that would allow them to save lives as coronavirus cases climbed again Friday, prompting the army to open its hospitals in a desperate bid to control a massive humanitarian crisis. (AP Photo/Channi Anand) © Provided by Associated Press A relative of a person who died of COVID-19 mourns at a crematorium in Jammu, in Jammu, India, Friday, April 30, 2021. Indian scientists appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to publicly release virus data that would allow them to save lives as coronavirus cases climbed again Friday, prompting the army to open its hospitals in a desperate bid to control a massive humanitarian crisis. (AP Photo/Channi Anand)

NEW DELHI (AP) — 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.

A family member performs the last rites of a COVID-19 victim at a crematorium in Jammu, in Jammu, India, Friday, April 30, 2021.  Indian scientists appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to publicly release virus data that would allow them to save lives as coronavirus cases climbed again Friday, prompting the army to open its hospitals in a desperate bid to control a massive humanitarian crisis. (AP Photo/Channi Anand) © Provided by Associated Press A family member performs the last rites of a COVID-19 victim at a crematorium in Jammu, in Jammu, India, Friday, April 30, 2021. Indian scientists appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to publicly release virus data that would allow them to save lives as coronavirus cases climbed again Friday, prompting the army to open its hospitals in a desperate bid to control a massive humanitarian crisis. (AP Photo/Channi Anand)

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.

In this photo provided by the U.S. Air Force, a C-5M Super Galaxy, carrying critical medical supplies, takes off Wednesday, April 28, 2021, from Travis Air Force Base, Calif., for a non-stop flight to India. The United States is donating medical supplies to assist the country of India in its ongoing fight against COVID-19. The donation consisted of 440 oxygen cylinders and regulators, one million N-95 masks and one million COVID-19 rapid diagnostic kits. (Cameron Otte/U.S. Air Force via AP) © Provided by Associated Press In this photo provided by the U.S. Air Force, a C-5M Super Galaxy, carrying critical medical supplies, takes off Wednesday, April 28, 2021, from Travis Air Force Base, Calif., for a non-stop flight to India. The United States is donating medical supplies to assist the country of India in its ongoing fight against COVID-19. The donation consisted of 440 oxygen cylinders and regulators, one million N-95 masks and one million COVID-19 rapid diagnostic kits. (Cameron Otte/U.S. Air Force via AP)

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.

Since January, nearly 10% of Indians have received one dose, but only around 1.5% have received both, though India is one of the world’s biggest producers of vaccines.

Some states already said they do not have enough doses for everyone. Even the ongoing effort to inoculate people above 45 is stuttering.

The state of Maharashtra has said it won’t be able to start on Saturday. Satyender Jain, the health minister in the capital, New Delhi, said earlier this week that the city doesn’t have enough doses to vaccinate people between 18 and 44.

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.

In this photo provided by the U.S. Air Force, Airman 1st Class Fernando Beltran secures oxygen cylinders to a pallet on April 28, 2021, at Travis Air Force Base, Calif. The United States is donating medical supplies to assist the country of India in its fight against COVID-19. The donation of 440 oxygen cylinders and regulators, one million N95 masks and one million COVID-19 rapid diagnostic kits, will be transported to India aboard a U.S. Air Force C-5M Super Galaxy aircraft. (Nicholas Pilch/U.S. Air Force via AP) © Provided by Associated Press In this photo provided by the U.S. Air Force, Airman 1st Class Fernando Beltran secures oxygen cylinders to a pallet on April 28, 2021, at Travis Air Force Base, Calif. The United States is donating medical supplies to assist the country of India in its fight against COVID-19. The donation of 440 oxygen cylinders and regulators, one million N95 masks and one million COVID-19 rapid diagnostic kits, will be transported to India aboard a U.S. Air Force C-5M Super Galaxy aircraft. (Nicholas Pilch/U.S. Air Force via AP)

The U.S. meanwhile joined a growing list of countries restricting travel from India, the White House said, citing a devastating rise in COVID-19 cases and the emergence of potentially dangerous variants of the coronavirus.

President Joe Biden spoke Monday with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi about the growing health crisis and pledged to immediately send assistance. This week, the U.S. began delivering therapeutics, rapid virus tests and oxygen to India, along with some materials needed for India to boost its domestic production of COVID-19 vaccines.

A wreath lies on the coffin of a COVID-19 victim before his cremation in Jammu, India, Friday, April 30, 2021.  Indian scientists appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to publicly release virus data that would allow them to save lives as coronavirus cases climbed again Friday, prompting the army to open its hospitals in a desperate bid to control a massive humanitarian crisis. (AP Photo/Channi Anand) © Provided by Associated Press A wreath lies on the coffin of a COVID-19 victim before his cremation in Jammu, India, Friday, April 30, 2021. Indian scientists appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to publicly release virus data that would allow them to save lives as coronavirus cases climbed again Friday, prompting the army to open its hospitals in a desperate bid to control a massive humanitarian crisis. (AP Photo/Channi Anand)

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.

A family member performs the last rites of a COVID-19 victim at a crematorium in Jammu, India, Friday, April 30, 2021.  Indian scientists appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to publicly release virus data that would allow them to save lives as coronavirus cases climbed again Friday, prompting the army to open its hospitals in a desperate bid to control a massive humanitarian crisis. (AP Photo/Channi Anand) © Provided by Associated Press A family member performs the last rites of a COVID-19 victim at a crematorium in Jammu, India, Friday, April 30, 2021. Indian scientists appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to publicly release virus data that would allow them to save lives as coronavirus cases climbed again Friday, prompting the army to open its hospitals in a desperate bid to control a massive humanitarian crisis. (AP Photo/Channi Anand)

Other nations have also sent assistance, and the Indian air force airlifted oxygen containers from Singapore, Dubai and Bangkok.

Relatives of a person who died of COVID-19 mourn at a crematorium in New Delhi, India, Friday, April 30, 2021. Indian scientists appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to publicly release virus data that would allow them to save lives as coronavirus cases climbed again Friday, prompting the army to open its hospitals in a desperate bid to control a massive humanitarian crisis. (AP Photo) © Provided by Associated Press Relatives of a person who died of COVID-19 mourn at a crematorium in New Delhi, India, Friday, April 30, 2021. Indian scientists appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to publicly release virus data that would allow them to save lives as coronavirus cases climbed again Friday, prompting the army to open its hospitals in a desperate bid to control a massive humanitarian crisis. (AP Photo) Children of migrant workers wait for transportation at a bus station during a lockdown in New Delhi, India, Friday, April 30, 2021. Indian scientists appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to publicly release virus data that would allow them to save lives as coronavirus cases climbed again Friday, prompting the army to open its hospitals in a desperate bid to control a massive humanitarian crisis. (AP Photo) © Provided by Associated Press Children of migrant workers wait for transportation at a bus station during a lockdown in New Delhi, India, Friday, April 30, 2021. Indian scientists appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to publicly release virus data that would allow them to save lives as coronavirus cases climbed again Friday, prompting the army to open its hospitals in a desperate bid to control a massive humanitarian crisis. (AP Photo)

Hospital fire kills 15 virus patients as India steps up jabs