Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal. (HT file)
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal. (HT file)

Delhi setting up 1,200 ICU beds, importing oxygen plants, containers: Kejriwal

A surge in Covid-19 cases over the last fortnight triggered a shortage of essential resources such as medical oxygen and resulted in a steep increase in deaths
UPDATED ON APR 27, 2021 04:43 PM IST

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday said they are setting up 1,200 additional intensive care unit (ICU) beds and importing oxygen plants and cryogenic tankers from France and Thailand even as the oxygen situation has improved over the last two days. A surge in Covid-19 cases over the last fortnight triggered a shortage of essential resources such as medical oxygen and resulted in a steep increase in deaths.

“We do not have as many SOS calls from hospitals now as we got on those three days [last week]. I want to thank the Central government for helping us through this time by providing their top officials, who worked in close coordination with the senior officers of the Delhi government. I thank our Delhi government officials too who have worked day and night to address the crisis,” he said at a digital press conference.

The oxygen crisis in Delhi worsened on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. “Hospitals were jam-packed, and I was scared that any major untoward incident may lead to deaths due to lack of oxygen.”

Kejriwal said they were arranging 500 ICU beds at the Ramlila Ground in front of Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital. “Another 500 ICU beds are being readied at the main Ramlila Ground in front of Lok Nayak Hospital. At the Radha Saomi Satsang facility, we are arranging 200 ICU beds.” Kejriwal said by May 10, they will add 1,200 ICU beds to the Covid-19 infrastructure, which is now totally overstretched.

He said the current Covid-19 wave is dangerous because it is more infectious and is making patients severely ill. “That is why the demand for ICU beds has increased manifold.” He said every hospital is treating patients more than its capacity. “All ICU beds are full. The Central government gave us 500 ICU beds at the DRDO [Defence Research and Development Organisation] facility in Delhi Cantt, but all beds got filled in just three hours.” He added it means Delhi has so many serious patients struggling to get ICU treatment.

Delhi on Tuesday reported Covid-19 XXXX cases and XXX deaths, taking it tally of infections to XXX and toll from the pandemic to XXXX.

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Kejriwal said they have been unable to receive their share of oxygen allotted by the Centre due to a shortage of tankers. “The Delhi government has decided to import 18 cryogenic tankers from Bangkok [Thailand], which will start arriving from tomorrow [Wednesday],” he said. Kejriwal said they have sought the Centre’s help to have the Indian Air Force airlift these tankers. “Once these 18 tankers reach the city, the problem of transporting liquid oxygen will be solved, and Delhi will start getting its full quota of oxygen from the Centre…”

Kejriwal, who thanked the Centre for giving them five imported tankers, said they would set up 44 Pressure Swing Adsorption (PSA) oxygen plants at Delhi hospitals in over a month. “We are importing 21 PSA oxygen plants from France. These are ready-to-use plants and will be installed in different hospitals. In the next month, we will be installing 44 PSA oxygen plants in Delhi. Of these, eight are being installed by the Centre. For some reason, the project was delayed, but now by April 30, these eight plants will be ready. The remaining 36 oxygen plants will be set up by the Delhi government of which 21 are being imported from France and 15 are indigenous.”

The Centre provides up to 490 MT of oxygen to Delhi daily, but it has faced a deficit of about 100MT due to transportation issues.

Kejriwal said many chief ministers and industrialists came forward to help the Delhi government after he wrote to them seeking support. “Talks have advanced with some of them, but they have requested not to be named. So, I thank all the chief ministers, industrialists, NGOs, and religious organisations who have come out to help us in this crisis. Whatever decisions I announced is because of their help in some way or the other.”

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