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Centre increases oxygen supply to Delhi, but hospitals have only hours left till they run out

A status check of several major govt and private hospitals in Delhi show that many of them are running a full house with less than a day's worth of oxygen supply to count on.

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New Delhi: Under the deluge of India’s second Covid wave, the national capital has been struggling to cater to patients requiring oxygen, with government and private hospitals Wednesday saying they had mere hours worth of supply left and no assurance of replenishment soon.

Early in the day, several major hospitals, both government-run and private, had received fresh stock. But this, hospital staff said, was not enough to mitigate the situation. Meanwhile, Max Hospital Group director, Harinder Singh Chehal, alleged that tankers being sent for refills were being “disrupted and diverted”.

As of Wednesday morning, Delhi had recorded 28,395 positive cases and 277 deaths in 24 hours, among the highest daily tallies in the country. The city’s positivity rate is currently 32.82 per cent.

Late in the day, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said the Centre had increased the national capital’s oxygen quota.

Hours before this announcement, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia had alleged in a press briefing that an official of the Haryana government stopped oxygen supply to Delhi from a plant in Faridabad.

Several hospitals in Delhi also alleged that the Haryana government was not allowing vendors to supply oxygen to them and there is only limited stock left as hundreds of coronavirus patients battled for their life in these healthcare facilities.

Also read: Fresh supply of medical oxygen sent to govt, private hospitals in Delhi amid Covid crisis

Government hospitals not spared

At Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital, Medical Director Dr Suresh Kumar said the hospital had enough oxygen supply to last another 12 hours (till 12 pm Thursday). Kumar said that the hospital’s demand had increased upto seven times, to about 18-19 metric tonnes.

“All our beds are currently full and every patient needs 40 to 50 litres of oxygen per minute. Ten tonnes of oxygen was received yesterday, but we have requested we need 10 tonnes more,” he told ThePrint over the phone.

Dr P.S. Nayyer, the medical superintendent at Sanjay Gandhi Hospital, also spoke of a similar situation. According to him, the hospital’s oxygen supply was sufficient for another five hours only.

Over at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, Chairman Dr D.S. Rana said the hospital had supply that would last till 9 am Thursday. “The hospital has 4,500 cubic metres (10,830 metric tonnes) of oxygen supplied by private vendors, whereas 6,000 cubic metres (14,439 metric tonnes) was supplied by Inox (a private company).”

It currently has a requirement for 11,000 cubic meters (26,471 metric tonnes) of oxygen. Dr Rana said the Indian Oxygen Limited and Inox had promised to refill their tanks during the day.

On Tuesday, the hospital received 5,000 cubic metres (12,032 metric tonnes) of oxygen supply from a private vendor, while Guru Tegh Bahadur Hospital confirmed that a truck carrying oxygen from a firm reached them around 1.30 am Wednesday. Ambedkar Hospital said it received a fresh supply at 5 am Wednesday, which administrative staff said could last 24 hours.

The only place that appeared to be tiding over the crisis was the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS). Dr Vijay Hadda at AIIMS Covid Critical Care said they did not have any shortage of oxygen. “I don’t foresee any reason that there will be any shortage in the future as well,” he told ThePrint.

Also read: Protesting farmers reject allegations about blocking oxygen transport to Delhi

‘Most hospitals maxed out’

At Apollo hospital, Managing Director P. Shivakumar said they currently had only 10 to 12 hours of supply left. “This level is dangerously low with supply chain disruptions and delays being witnessed over the past week,” he said.

As of Wednesday, the hospital had 350 Covid patients dependent on oxygen. A disrupted or delayed supply could have serious ramifications.

Fortis Hospitals Group’s Chief Operating Officer Anil Vinayak told ThePrint that oxygen requirement had increased by almost three times since last week but the hospital was receiving less than a day’s supply at a time, putting a strain on the system.

“Delhi is in the middle of a [Covid] peak. In terms of ICU, beds and Emergency, most hospitals are maxed out. This is caused by high absolute numbers and relatively serious patients coming to hospitals, most of whom require oxygen support,” Vinayak said. Max hospital in Saket said it had 18 hours of supply left, according to an update released at 6pm Wednesday.

Max hospital Patparganj, which said it had only three hours of supply left, made an urgent appeal to Delhi High Court. At the hearing, the court said the responsibility to ensure oxygen supply was squarely on the central government’s shoulders, and if necessary, entire supplies of oxygen to industries, including steel and petroleum, should be diverted for medical usage, PTI reported.

Max hospital Shalimar Bagh said it had only two hours of oxygen supply left, the hospital said in a statement.

In a letter to Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain, Max’s senior director Chehal alleged that an oxygen tanker of theirs, on its way to be refilled at Max Hospital Shalimar Bagh, was disrupted and “diverted to AIIMS”.

Earlier in the day, Delhi’s St. Stephens Hospital said its supply would only last for two hours more and it was trying to arrange for oxygen for the 300 critical patients dependent on it.

With PTI inputs

(Edited by Manasa Mohan)

Also read: ‘Why is Centre not waking up to gravity of the situation’: Delhi HC on oxygen crisis


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