Third Covid wave chances real, Delhi govt preparing on war-footing: Kejriwal
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal Saturday cautioned that the chances of a third Covid wave were quite real, and asserted his government was preparing on a "war-footing" to combat it.
He said that the indications of a third wave are coming from the UK where coronavirus cases are rising again despite "45 per cent of its population" being vaccinated.
"So, we cannot afford to sit idle," he told an online event to inaugurate 22 new PSA oxygen plants at nine hospitals across Delhi.
He said these plants have a total production capacity of 17.3 MT, and they will strengthen the preparations to fight Covid. As many as 17 more oxygen plants will be started by July, he said.
The Delhi government is also procuring oxygen tankers to aid the fight against a third wave, he said, adding that the previous wave, which in on the wane, was "very dangerous".
Expressing gratitude towards industries for their help in fighting the second wave, he also said the people of Delhi came together to combat it with struggle and discipline, and have "succeeded in controlling it".
He prayed that a third wave of Covid doesn't arrive. However, he cautioned that the chances of a third wave are "quite real", and "if it happens, Delhi has to again fight together".
"We cannot afford to sit idle and our government is preparing on a war-footing to combat it," he said.
He also underlined the need for expanding the vaccination drive to fight the pandemic, saying, "Our vaccination program has been running successfully. The shortage of vaccines is still a problem, but our 'Jahan Vote, Wahan Vaccination' (vaccination at polling booths) is a success."
What was the second wave for the country during April and May this year was the fourth for Delhi as the city had already battled three waves till November 2020, Kejriwal said.
Doctors, nurses, paramedic staff, sanitation workers, and others played a huge role in the fight against the virus, he said, adding, "I know many doctors who did not go home for days. I want to thank them on behalf of the people of Delhi."
The chief minister underlined that the number of peak cases in a day in the first wave was about 4,500 which escalated to over 28,000 in the fourth.
He said Delhi witnessed a huge shortage of oxygen during the fourth wave as Delhi is not an industrial state and doesn't have its own source of production of oxygen.
Delhi needs 150-200 MT of medical oxygen for non-Covid purposes, apart from some amount of industrial oxygen. This requirement rose to 700 MT during the fourth wave, he said.
Delhi saw a massive crisis of medical oxygen supply during mid-April to early May period, when several hospitals issued SOS for oxygen.
Many deaths were attributed to this scarcity, and the Delhi government has already formed a committee of experts to examine and ascertain if those fatalities were indeed caused by the scarcity of the life-saving gas.
"We didn't have the means of production or even tankers to procure oxygen from states like Haryana and Uttar Pradesh on the directions of the Central government. Now, we have to be fully prepared," Kejriwal said.
He mentioned that on Thursday he had inaugurated three storage tanks of 57 MT each, along with oxygen tanks of 13.5 MT each.
A total of 27 PSA oxygen plants, including the 22 inaugurated Saturday, have been made operational in Delhi. Apart from these, six plants have already been started by the Central government and seven are going to begin soon, the chief minister said.
Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain said that of the total PSA plants opened Saturday, 17 have been given by HCL Technologies and four by Maruti Udyog. HCL will be supplying five more plants soon, he said.
HCL Technologies Chairperson Roshni Nadar and the heads of various city government-run hospitals took part in the event.
The hospitals where these plants have been installed include Sanjay Gandhi Memorial Hospital, Rajiv Gandhi Super Speciality Hospital, Deep Chand Bandhu Hospital, and Babasaheb Ambedkar Hospital.
All these hospitals have a capacity of 9,500 LPM (litres per minute). This means, 1,000 beds daily will be able to receive oxygen from within the hospital itself, Jain said.
"This will let us be independent." he said, adding many plants are the pipeline.
"We are working on a war-footing to equip ourselves for the third wave especially on the front of oxygen availability, which was a crisis that we faced in the second wave," Jain said.
HCL Technologies’ Roshni Nadar said, "HCL is contributing 21 ready-to-install Oxygen plants, imported from France, and 17 of these have already been installed across seven hospitals in Delhi. The remaining four have also arrived and will be installed over the next few days".