As India battles, an unprecedented crisis of oxygen shortage as the surge of the second wave of Covid-19 overwhelms the healthcare and production sectors, several Good Samaritans are trying to help with the crisis in the country. In most parts of the country, there is a mad scramble for oxygen. In this second wave of Corona pandemic, more than 3 lakh people are added to the list of infected people every day and it is claiming more than two thousand lives daily. The unavailability of oxygen is a major reason for deaths this time around say, doctors. Along with the increased number of patients, social media is also seeing an amplified number of SOS calls, and several states are reporting an oxygen crisis – from hospitals to individual patients in home isolation. The Home Ministry, last Monday, however, said that India has enough stock of medical oxygen, but the issue is its transportation from the producing states to high-demand areas.
While the oxygen crisis is being met at the production level, researchers at Industrial Training Institute, Berhampur, Odisha have come up a solution to transporting heavy cylinders inside premises with a new invention. Professor Rajat Kumar Panigrahi, the principal of the institute, along with a team of five members, was able to design a trolley-like device to move the cylinders. While one demo model is being used at the make-shift hospital at the institute, five more are being fabricated for use in COVID-care hospitals across the city.
“Last week, one such facility was set up at the ITI campus. Here, I noticed that labourers bringing oxygen cylinders refused to unload them inside the premises, owing to the fear of transmission of the virus. Once they were left at the entrance, the heavy cylinders were carried in by a few hospital staff members with help from families attending to their loved ones,” Professor Panigrahi told The Better India.
The trolley, which is 2.7 ft tall, can support over 160 kilograms of weight, and navigate through uneven terrain. “A metal chain has also been fit to hold the cylinder in place on the trolley. This ensures that it does not topple over while moving,” he added.
The oxygen crisis has seen a flow of support from everywhere in India: At a time when oxygen cylinders are hard to come by and the few that are available, are being sold for as much as Rs 30,000 in the black market, Manoj Gupta, a businessman in Hamirpur district is refilling oxygen cylinders at a cost of only Rs 1 for the treatment of Coronavirus positive patients. Owner of Rimjhim Ispat Factory in Sumerpur Industrial Area in Hamirpur, Gupta has so far refilled over 1,000 oxygen cylinders for Rs 1 only in his bottling plant to save the lives of hundreds of Covid patients.
In Mumbai, Malad’s Shahnawaz Sheikh sold his prized Rs 22 lakh Ford Endeavour to raise money to buy oxygen cylinders. He was able to procure 160 of them and started working to help people.
A Sikh Gurdwara in Ghaziabad-Indirapuram has started “oxygen langar” to help these patients out, by helping fill cylinders for free. The gurdwara’s “oxygen langar” for COVID-19 patients promises to supply oxygen in its premises to patients till the time they don’t find a bed for themselves in the hospital. They have also launched a helpline number for the people to call and book oxygen cylinder.