After an acute oxygen shortage in Delhi hospitals was flagged in court and through appeals by politicians, including Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, some of the city’s biggest medical facilities received a late night refill yesterday. Oxygen tankers arrived late on Tuesday at some of these places, including Sir Ganga Ram Hospital and Guru Teg Bahadur (GTB) Hospital, which were merely hours away from running out of stock.
Delhi’s biggest COVID-19 facility, the Lok Nayak Jayaprakash Narayan Hospital, received 10 tonnes of supplies last night. The hospital administration said these stocks would suffice for now.
Gangaram Hospital received 14,000 cubic metres of oxygen in two separate late night/early morning consignments, enough to hold them for a day or two, chairman DS Rana said.
“4,500 cubic metres were supplied by a private vendor. 6,000 cubic metres by Inox. The total requirement at present is 11,000 cubic metres. The supply should last 24 hours till 9 am tomorrow. Indian Oxygen and Inox have promised to refill the tanks during the day,” Dr Rana told NDTV.
One consignment came from their regular supplier, Inox, and the other, from a private vendor organised by the Delhi government. Similarly, the government-run GTB Hospital, too, received supplies last night.
Officials at Max Hospital in east Delhi’s Patparganj, however, said that one consignment from Inox, which was expected at 2 am, arrived only at 8 this morning. They said that 6-hour gap was nightmarish. Even this consignment is not enough to last beyond the afternoon, they said. Of the 300 patients in the hospital, 200 are on oxygen support, officials there said.
Another facility that received oxygen supplies last night was the state-run Deen Dayal Upadhyay hospital.
The harrowing conditions at some of these hospitals were made known by some desperate public calls made by leaders and administrators.
The situation didn’t ease even with the Delhi High Court’s intervention on Monday asking suppliers not to divert stocks to other states. The Delhi government, for instance, had told the court earlier that Inox, the main vendor for the state’s hospitals, was moving its quota to Uttar Pradesh instead. It had also told the court that the Yogi Adityanath government was even blocking supplies coming in to Delhi from plants based there.
Taking up allegations of oxygen shortage and discrimination in resources, the Delhi High Court told the Central government yesterday that economic interests could not override human lives or “we are heading for disaster”.
When the Centre said oxygen had been banned for industrial use from April 22 (Thursday), the court asked: “Why not do it today itself? Why wait for April 22? Lives are at stake. Are you going to tell patients to wait till April 22 for oxygen?”
The Centre then assured all support to the city government whose health system was pushed to the brink by the galloping COVID-19 cases.
A high-level review meet was chaired yesterday by Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla and attended by Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan, NITI Aayog (Health) member Dr VK Paul, and others.
The Home Secretary pointed out the steep growth in number of cases all across the country. From 20,000 cases reported on January 1, India has almost 10 times more cases (more than 2,00,000 cases) being reported daily since April 15.
Indian authorities scrambled to shore up supplies of medical oxygen to hospitals in the capital, Delhi, on Wednesday as a fast-spreading second wave of coronavirus stretched medical infrastructure to breaking point, officials and doctors said.
India, the world’s second most populous country, is reporting the world’s highest number of new daily cases and approaching a peak of about 297,000 cases in one day that the United States hit in January.
Delhi’s government issued a call for help on social media saying major government hospitals only had enough oxygen to last another eight to 24 hours while some private ones had enough for just four or five hours.
One hospital, the GTB hospital, got some oxygen supplies just before it was going to run out of stocks for its 500 patients, media reported.
“We had almost lost hope. All of us were in tears when we saw the oxygen tanker arrive,” one relieved doctor, speaking on condition of anonymity, told India Today.
At least 22 patients died on Wednesday in a hospital in western India after a disruption to their oxygen supply caused by a leaking tank, the health minister said, as a nationwide surge in coronavirus cases soaks up supplies of the gas.
The incident in the city of Nashik, one of India’s worst-hit areas, happened after the tank of oxygen leaked, said Rajesh Tope, the health minister of Maharashtra, the richest state, where the city is located.
“Patients who were on ventilators at the hospital in Nashik have died,” Tope said in televised remarks.
“The leakage was spotted at the tank supplying oxygen to these patients. The interrupted supply could be linked to the deaths of the patients in the hospital.”
Television showed images of people with empty oxygen cylinders crowding refilling facilities in the most populous state of Uttar Pradesh, as they scrambled to save stricken relatives in hospital.
The situation was so severe that some people had tried to loot an oxygen tanker, forcing authorities to beef up security, said the health minister of the northern state of Haryana.
“From now, I’ve ordered police protection for all tankers,” Anil Vij told Reuters partner ANI.