As the number of coronavirus patients battling for their lives continued to peak in the national capital on Wednesday, a number of top Delhi hospitals complained of shortage of oxygen and warned of its availability for barely a few hours. Among the hospitals that have officially sought immediate help to save lives of critical patients infected by the virus are Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, all of Max Hospitals across the national capital region and Sir Ganga Ram Hospital.
Here’s how much (or little) medical oxygen the hospitals have in stock to fight the battle until they receive further supply:
Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals - 10-12 hours of oxygen
Max Hospital – Saket (East Block) - 18 hours of Oxygen
Max Smart Hospital – Saket - 18 hours of Oxygen
Max Hospital – Patparganj - 3 hours of Oxygen
Max Hospital – Shalimar Bagh - 2 hours of Oxygen
Max Hospital – Vaishali - 8 hours of Oxygen
Max Hospital-Gurgaon - 8 hours of Oxygen
St Stephen’s Hospital - 3 hours of oxygen
Holy Family Hospital has oxygen that will last till 11am on Thursday with the current number of patients and their needs.
Sir Gangaram Hospital, which had a stock of five hours of oxygen, received 45 cylinders worth 7,000 litres in the evening from Linde India.
In a statement, Apollo Hospitals managing director P Shivakumar said the continuation of such disrupted or delayed supply will have serious ramifications for patients, especially the over 350 oxygen-dependent Covid-19 patients. “We strongly urge all the state governments and the Centre to assist us in ensuring uninterrupted supply in order to avert any catastrophic patient-related incident,” he said.
Another senior official from the hospital, Dr Karan Thakur, wrote to Delhi Health Satyendar Jain flagging “extreme uncertainty" in securing supplies by INOX and Linde India. Seeking Jain’s immediate intervention, Thakur said there is lack of clarity on transportation of oxygen from Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. He said suppliers have informed that due to intervention by local administration in Greater Noida, supply to Delhi has been stopped. Stating that the hospital needs about 4.5 tonnes of liquid oxygen per day to meet requirements, he said the hospital used to have three days stock, which has now reduced to 10 to 12 hours, adding suppliers are unable to give any firm commitment.
Blame on Haryana Govt
Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said an official of the Haryana government stopped oxygen supply to Delhi from a plant in Faridabad. Sisodia said the Centre decides the quota of oxygen for states and the AAP govt had been demanding that the Centre increase Delhi’s quota of oxygen from 378 metric tonnes to 700 metric tonnes. The central government is yet to take a step in this direction, he said.
Several hospitals have also complained that the Haryana government was not allowing vendors to supply oxygen to them. No reaction was immediately available from the Haryana government.
According to an official, Sir Ganga Ram City Hospital has 58 COVID patients, including 10 in ICU. “The vendor, as per its representative, is not being allowed by the Haryana government to supply oxygen cylinders and liquid oxygen to Sir Ganga Ram City Hospital, Pusa Road. Supply left is sufficient only for five hours," the official said.
He said the Centre needs to intervene as a large number of hospitals are affected due to the “stoppage of oxygen supply from Haryana".
The assistant director of St Stephens Hospital, Dr John Punnooses, said, “We get regular supply from Linde oxygen supplier. At 1:30pm today, they informed us that since plant in Faridabad (Haryana) is getting sealed, they won’t be able to supply oxygen to us. There’s an emergency now."
Another spokesperson of the hospital said the Haryana government has not been allowing vendors to supply oxygen. “Of the 350 patients in the hospital, around 200 are on oxygen support," he said. An official at the Holy Family Hospital in Okhla also claimed that the state neighbouring Delhi has stopped their tanker carrying oxygen. “Only a few hours of oxygen left. We are trying three-four vendors for fresh stock," he said.
Earlier in the day, some major government and private hospitals in Delhi had received a fresh stock of medical oxygen, averting a crisis just in time, according to officials. However, the stock needs to be replenished to save another day.
Meanwhile, Haryana minister Anil Vij alleged that a tanker carrying medical oxygen for COVID patients in hospitals, which was going from Panipat to Faridabad, was “looted" by the Delhi government and said all oxygen tankers will now move with police escort. Vij said given the increased demand for oxygen due to a surge in coronavirus cases, Haryana can spare the supply for others only after the state meets its own demand.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said the Centre has enhanced the national capital’s oxygen quota. “Central govt has increased Delhi’s quota of oxygen. We r very grateful to centre for this (sic)," Kejriwal tweeted.
On Tuesday, he had urged the Centre to provide medical oxygen to Delhi, saying some hospitals are going to run out of it in a few hours. He had on Sunday termed the shortage of oxygen for coronavirus patients an “emergency”. Kejriwal also wrote to Union Minister of Commerce and Industries Piyush Goyal, seeking his intervention in the matter. “Serious oxygen crisis persists in Delhi. I again urge the Centre to urgently provide oxygen to Delhi. Some hospitals are left with just a few hours of oxygen,” the chief minister had tweeted.