COVID-19 is surging at an astounding rate in India. The South Asian nation's health ministry said Friday it had counted a record-breaking 332,730 new infections in the previous 24-hour period. The new tally surpasses Thursday's record daily toll of 314,835 new infections.
At least six hospitals in New Delhi, the capital, have run out of, or are on the verge of running out of, oxygen for their patients.
The oxygen shortage is so acute that the high court in the capital ordered the national government to divert oxygen from industrial use to hospitals.
In western India on Friday, a fire at the Vijay Vallabh Hospital killed at least 13 COVID patients.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is holding meetings with the country's chief ministers Friday to determine how best to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center reports that India has nearly 16 million COVID-19 cases. Only the U.S., with almost 32 million cases, has more infections than India.
Agence France-Presse is reporting that Japan is set to declare a state of emergency because of a surge in COVID infections, just three months before the opening of the Olympic Games in Tokyo.
"We have a strong sense of crisis," Yasutoshi Nishimura, Japan's minister for virus response, said Friday, according to AFP.
Japan has more than 550,000 COVID-19 cases, according to Johns Hopkins.
Syria's government and the country's last opposition-held enclave received their first doses of COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday.
UNICEF, the World Health Organization and the GAVI vaccine alliance announced in a joint statement the delivery of 200,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to the Syrian government, and 53,800 doses to the rebel-controlled region in the northwest.
While fighting has mostly subsided since a cease-fire was implemented a year ago, Syria's civil war has complicated the delivery of the vaccines, forcing most of them to be transported through Damascus for government-controlled areas while the others are shipped through the border with Turkey.
Western nongovernmental organizations have said that Syria's logistical challenges in coordinating vaccinations in combat zones are worsened by the international financial sanctions that have been imposed on the country.
Johns Hopkins reports there are nearly 145 million worldwide COVID-19 infections and more than 3 million people have died.