New Delhi’s oxygen crisis seems to have been contained for now. After Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal raised an alarm about “few hours of oxygen left” on Tuesday (April 20) afternoon, the national capital’s major hospitals treating COVID patients received late night refill which will last for about a day.
Sir Ganga Ram Hospital received 14,000 cubic metres of oxygen while Lok Nayak Jayaprakash Narayan Hospital got 10 tonnes of supplies on Tuesday night.
The government-run Guru Teg Bahadur (GTB) Hospital also received oxygen supplies.
Max Hospital in Patparganj area of Delhi was expecting one supply at 2 am, which arrived only by 8 am, which lead to some paic. Even this supply won’t last beyond afternoon because of the 300 patients in the hospital, 200 are on oxygen support, a hospital official said.
Such dire was the situation that the Delhi High Court had to intervene on Monday asking the Centre why industrial supplies of oxygen are not being diverted to hospitals. When the Centre said oxygen had been banned for industrial use from April 22 (Thursday), the court asked: “Why not do it today itself? Why wait for April 22? Lives are at stake. Are you going to tell patients to wait till April 22 for oxygen?”
While the Centre admits shortage of oxygen, it said that private hospitals misuse the stocks by giving excess oxygen to patients for “psychological purposes”. The Centre has urged all states to avoid administering oxygen to those who do not need it necessarily.
The High Court told the Union government that economic interests could not override human lives or “we are heading for disaster”. In response, the Centre promised complete assistance to Delhi government and the local hospitals.
Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla said the oxygen supply has been constrained because of the sudden rise in the number of cases in a very short period of time. From just 20,000 cases on January 1, India now has 10 times more cases (more than 2,00,000 cases) on April 15, Bhalla said.