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Three Days On, Delhi Hospitals’ Oxygen Woes Continue As Cases Rise

On 22 April, Haryana police reportedly stopped an oxygen tanker out to resupply Delhi’s Apollo Hospital.

Updated
India
4 min read
Image used for representation only. Inox Air Products Plant, a major oxygen supplier to Delhi hospitals.
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Oxygen supply woes continue for the third straight day in New Delhi as hospitals across the capital gasp for the life-saving gas, restricted by its neighbours – Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.

Several major hospitals in Delhi, like Max, Apollo, Sri Ganga Ram and Fortis, are dependent on oxygen suppliers from the neighbouring states, but the restrictions continue even after the Delhi High Court ruled against any curb.

Sangita Reddy, Joint MD of Apollo Group of Hospitals, tweeted on Thursday, 22 April, that Haryana Police is not allowing an Air Liquide oxygen tanker to ply out of Haryana.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has since raised the incident with Haryana CM ML Khattar. The former has stated that 140 MT oxygen has been allotted to Delhi out of the 260 MT oxygen produced in Panipat.

Oxygen shortage issues are not restricted to the capital. Haryana, whose police was stopping oxygen tankers to move to Delhi, is facing a crisis itself. Fortis Hospital in Haryana has sent out signal fires as it counts down only 45 minutes of oxygen supply left at the hospital.

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Shanti Mukand Hospital in Delhi is at the brink of its oxygen supply. Its CEO, Sunil Saggar, broke down in an interview with ANI on 22 April as he explained the “deplorable conditions” the hospital is functioning in.

“We as doctors, we as a hospital are supposed to give lives. We cannot give them oxygen and if a patient comes to us, the patient will die,” breaking down in tears as he delineated the state of the hospital.

Sources at Delhi’s Apollo Hospital, Delhi told The Quint that the hospital only had “10-12 hours of supply available for all its patients, with no alternative”.

“The continuation of this disrupted or delayed supply will have serious ramifications for our patients, especially for the more-than-350 oxygen-dependent COVID-19 patients,” the hospital stated.

On late Wednesday, 21 April, Max Group of Hospitals released a press statement detailing the hours of oxygen supply left at its hospitals across the capital. According to the statement, all hospitals have less than 24 hours of supply left, with some having just 2-3 hours of oxygen left when the press release came.

Screenshot of Max Hospital statement
Screenshot of Max Hospital statement
(Photo: Max Hospital) 

“We urgently appeal to the state and the Central governments to help us procure adequate supplies of oxygen immediately to avert an imminent crisis,” the statement read.

It was only on Wednesday night that an oxygen tanker from Kashipur, Uttar Pradesh made its way to Max Hospital in Saket, which had 185 COVID-19 patients and less than 18 hours of oxygen left.

On Thursday morning, Primus Hospital in Chankyapuri, which reported only 5-6 hours of oxygen left for 150 patients, was supposed to receive an oxygen refilling tanker from Linde Gas in Faridabad, but it did not reach on time.

Saroj Hospital in Delhi is staring at the grim possibility of running out of oxygen within the hour.

“There is an oxygen shortage supply. This situation has remained so for the last 5-6 days. The oxygen supplier cannot be contacted. Right now, we have oxygen only for one hour,” reported ANI, quoting PK Bhardwaj.

The Quint also spoke to Dr Sumit Ray, Medical Superintendent, Holy Family Hospital in New Delhi, which is a COVID hospital on Wednesday and according to him, the hospital only had 10-12 hours of oxygen stock. The hospital had not received a refill of oxygen from Inox, according to a report by The Indian Express.

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‘Jungle Raj’: Manish Sisodia on Oxygen Supply Shortage

According to Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, some hospitals are completely depleted of their oxygen supplies and are not relying on oxygen cylinders procured from other hospitals who have larger stocks.

The Dy CM also accused the Haryana and Uttar Pradesh governments for creating a “jungle raj” which has resulted in oxygen shortages in the capital.

“Major reason behind Delhi's oxygen crisis is 'jungle raj' for oxygen by Haryana-UP. Their governments, officers, and police aren't letting supply from their oxygen plants come to Delhi. Our officers spoke to theirs, I tried to speak to GOI but things aren't changing on ground,” said Sisodia in a live press conference on 22 April.

“Despite increasing the quota by the Central government, the Haryana and Uttar Pradesh governments are stopping the supply of oxygen. Yesterday, Delhi received only 117 MT of oxygen instead of 378 MT. I request the Center that even if the paramilitary force has to be deployed, but in any case, deliver oxygen,” he added.

We Need More but Thankful For This: Delhi CM

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on 22 April held a press conference stating that 700 tonnes/day is required by the UT to sustain its current demand of oxygen in hospitals.

The CM further stated that the Centre had increased Delhi’s quota of oxygen from 378 tonnes to 480 tonnes. He also added that some oxygen requirement will also be met by supply plants in Odisha.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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