New Delhi: Amid the catastrophic second Covid-19 wave in India, hospitals in the national capital are operating on the edge due to an acute shortage of oxygen supply for coronavirus patients.
Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, Delhi’s premier private facility, sent an SOS on WhatsApp Friday morning saying, “25 sickest patients have died in last 24 hrs at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital. Oxygen will last another 2 hrs.”
Urging for help from the central and Delhi governments, the hospital also said the lives of 60 more patients were in “peril”.
An hour after the SOS, the hospital received oxygen tanks, a hospital attendant told ThePrint without specifying their source.
Dr D.S. Rana, chairman of the hospital, however, clarified that Covid patients, who have died in the last 24 hours, were all critical cases and that they didn’t die because of lack of oxygen.
Ganga Ram is, however, not the only private hospital witnessing an acute oxygen shortage. Other top private hospitals like Apollo, Fortis, Max have reportedly made similar appeals to restock their oxygen supply.
Smaller private facilities like Shantilal Mukand Hospital in Karkardooma, Preet Vihar’s Metro Hospital, and Holy Family Hospital, among others, are also suffering from the same crisis.
Government-run Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital and Sanjay Gandhi Hospital have also complained about oxygen shortage in the past, as ThePrint reported on 21 April.
‘No deaths due to oxygen shortage’
Ganga Ram is currently treating 515 Covid patients, said Dr Rana. Of these, 142 are reportedly on high-flow oxygen support.
Some of the patients who died in the last 24 hours were in their 30s and 40s, the hospital chairman said.
“Thirty Covid patients have died in the last twenty four hours and all these patients have died due to severe Covid disease rather than lack of oxygen, that part is very clear,” Dr Rana told ThePrint.
“We have been maintaining oxygen supply with the help of the government, though our storage was not enough to meet the requirement of people… now we have ensured we will be getting requirements on a daily basis,” he added.
‘Appropriate’ response from Delhi, central govts
On Friday, the hospital received a letter from the Delhi government’s health department saying that Inox air company is going to supply 9,000 cubic metres of oxygen per day.
According to Rana, the oxygen supply received after Thursday midnight and in the morning would last till 2-3 pm Friday, and they are sure to get more supply before the present stock runs out.
“Right now supply of oxygen is quite enough,” Rana told ThePrint.
Asked if the governments responded in time, the chairman said that he is glad that the Centre and state governments responded “very appropriately”.
He further said the gap between demand and supply of the oxygen is huge and they do not wish to pin the blame on governments or the manufacturers as it is a “crisis which was unexpected”.
Asked about their plan of action in case of shortage of oxygen, the hospital said they will “pray” that they don’t have to face such a situation in future.
The oxygen crisis in the national capital was flagged by Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal during the PM-CMs meeting Friday. He said a “big tragedy” may befall Delhi due to lack of oxygen support in hospitals. He added the Centre should take over all oxygen plants through the Army.
On 22 April, Delhi reported 26,169 new cases and 306 deaths.
(Edited by Debalina Dey)