CM flags Delhi’s ‘oxygen emergency’, writes to Centre
Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday called the shortage of oxygen for Covid-19 patients in Delhi an “emergency”, as his deputy Manish Sisodia identified hospitals that would run out of oxygen within hours if supply was not augmented.
“Del facing acute shortage of oxygen. In view of sharply increasing cases, Del needs much more than normal supply. Rather than increasing supply, our normal supply has been sharply reduced and Delhi’s quota has been diverted to other states. OXYGEN HAS BECOME AN EMERGENCY IN DEL,” Kejriwal tweeted, after a meeting on the scarcity Sunday evening.
Several resident welfare groups and relatives of Covid-19 patients on Sunday also said they were facing trouble getting oxygen cylinders and concentrators.
Kejriwal also wrote to Union minister of commerce and industries Piyush Goyal on Sunday, seeking his intervention into the matter, and highlighted that the Centre was sending oxygen to other states through a company that was a “major supplier” in Delhi.
In his letter, a copy of which HT has seen, Kejriwal said, “National Capital Territory of Delhi has witnessed a very sharp increase in Covid-19 cases leading to a very large number of serious patients getting admitted to various private and government hospitals. This has led to a huge jump in demand for medical oxygen. On the basis of the standard formula prescribed by the government of India, a minimum requirement of 700MT of oxygen has been projected to your ministry. The same was communicated to the Secretary of Government of India department of promotion of industry and internal trade, ministry of commerce and industry, government of India, vide letter dated April 17. A quick response in the matter is still awaited.”
The chief minister also said that the outputs of M/S Inox, a “major supplier” in the Capital, were largely being diverted to other states.
“At this critical juncture it will not be possible for hospitals to enter contractual agreements with the new suppliers who have now been assigned to Delhi. This disruption is already starting to cause critical shortage across major hospitals,” the letter read.
The company accounts for 20% of Delhi’s total daily oxygen supply.
A spokesperson of the Union commerce ministry did not respond to HT’s queries related to Kejriwal’s letter.
“After a discussion with states, the government has finalised the distribution of 6,177 metric tonnes of oxygen, including 1,500 MT to Maharashtra, 350 MT to Delhi and 800 MT to Uttar Pradesh,” a government official with direct knowledge of the matter said, requesting anonymity.
During an inspection at a Covid-19 facility, Sisodia said, “Several hospitals in Delhi are facing major oxygen shortages. Some of them will run out of oxygen in another three or four hours, while several will run out in 10-12 hours if supply is not enhanced immediately. I have done a review this evening. For instance, Batra Hospital has oxygen for three hours, Balaji Hospital for 24 hours, while Ganga Ram Hospital has supply for 32 hours. It is a critical situation. We have urged the Centre to make oxygen supply a priority.”
Meanwhile, residents said vendors had run out of new cylinders, even as hospitals turned patients away due to a shortage of beds.
Puneeta Marwah, a resident of Greater Kailash 1, said, “It has been a struggle to arrange for oxygen cylinders or concentrators. A few hospitals told us a few beds may free up in a day or two. But till then, we have to manage the patient at home.”
The GK-1 resident welfare association (RWA) stepped in, providing her with an oxygen concentrator. The association has maintained two oxygen concentrators and three cylinders since last year for Covid-19 patients.
Health experts recommend that Covid-19 patients get hospitalised if their oxygen saturation is below 94mm. However, with facilities packed, experts say patients should be given oxygen therapy at home if possible.
Dr Vikas Maurya, director and head of pulmonology, Fortis Healthcare, Shalimar Bagh, said, “Given the surge in Covid-19 cases and demand for hospital beds, it is advisable for patients to take oxygen therapy or support at home till they get admission in hospital. Oxygen saturation below 94 means that there is lung involvement and patients should start looking to get hospitalised. A level below 90 is a cause of concern.”