Alarm bells ring constantly in Delhi, with even officials scrambling for oxygen cylinders
- Delhi had received 448 MT of oxygen on Sunday, slightly lower than Saturday’s 454MT, according to a government official.
Private hospitals in Delhi on Monday continued to post SOS messages on social media, raising alarm over oxygen supplies dipping precariously even as the state government maintained it has not been receiving its quota of 590 metric tonnes of oxygen.
The Delhi government regulates the allocation to each hospital depending on the average supplies being received and the number of patients admitted to the hospitals. The actual supply that Delhi might receive is calculated on the basis of the supply projections by the companies.
Delhi had received 448 MT of oxygen on Sunday, slightly lower than Saturday’s 454MT, according to a government official.
“With so many patients on high oxygen support – today 39 patients were either on ventilator or high-flow oxygen – our daily requirement for oxygen has gone up to 1.2MT a day. The government had earlier allocated 0.9MT that has been almost halved to 0.49MT. How can we treat the same number of patients with such little oxygen?” asked Rajiv Biala, vice president, Institute of Brain and Spine in Lajpat Nagar that dipped into the last few cylinders. The hospitals asked patients to look to other facilities on Monday. He said, “We need at least 90 to 100 cylinders a day, we are somehow getting 50 to 60 after begging and borrowing from other hospitals. Our vehicles are stuck at refilling plants.”
Around 2.30pm, attendants of patients admitted at IBS Hospital, Lajpat Nagar, tweeted that the hospital was running out of oxygen and the lives of people were in danger.
Akash Hospital, Dwarka, also claimed it got inadequate supplies. “Today, we got a good supply of liquid oxygen but our vehicles are standing outside two to three stations to get the cylinders filled. And now the government has reduced our allocation by up to 30%,” said Dr Ashish Chaudhary, managing director of the hospital. The hospital had been allocated 4.7MT on April 29, which was increased to 5.1MT on May 1, and then reduced to 2.75MT on May 2.
The hospital has been running at capacity and has added 40 makeshift beds in the parking lot and the driveway to cater to the rush of patients.
The total allocation to Covid-19 hospitals by the Delhi government has reduced from 380MT on April 29 to 363.87 MT on May 2. This is largely because the quantity of oxygen promised to the government by the suppliers has reduced from 445MT to 425MT. The allocation to Covid-19 hospitals went up to 438.4 on May 1, when the suppliers promised 520MT to Delhi.
“The government is not sure how much oxygen they will get and on a daily basis they keep increasing or decreasing the allocation... Patient care is suffering,” said Dr PK Bharadwaj, secretary, Delhi Voluntary Health Forum.
He said, “If the oxygen situation is sorted, hospitals can increase the bed strength by a minimum 5,000.”
Several hospitals including IBS hospitals and Batra hospital had to close admissions on Monday in view of limited stock.
Smaller hospitals and nursing homes said being at the tail end of supplies, they were in a precarious situation.
“The bigger hospitals, once they get the liquid oxygen, are okay for some time. We have to go queue up outside filling stations for hours; our vehicles just drop the oxygen and go back to the filling station. I need 220 cylinders, the quota was reduced to around 103 cylinders and I get only about 50 to 60 a day,” said Dr CM Bhagat from Bhagat Chandra hospital in Palam.
The hospital raised as SOS on Monday night. “We have also asked our patients to arrange for oxygen and many have their own cylinders and concentrators. The problem occurs when they need high flow or ventilators,” he said.
Deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia on Monday said the government was in touch with several entities to boost oxygen supply in the capital.
“It is imperative we receive adequate oxygen and increase our capacity of beds. But we need intensive and immediate help to ensure proper oxygen supply in Delhi, and we are in touch with private entities, the social sector, and the Centre for the same,” Sisodia, who is also the nodal minister for Covid-19 management, said.