Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday 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 tweeted.
Sir Ganga Ram hospital in a statement said it has only 6,000 cubic meters of Oxygen left, “which at the current rate of consumption can only last till 1 am. Need urgent replenishment."
In a response to an NDTV report of 6-12 hours of oxygen left in Delhi’s two big hospitals: Max Group and Gangaram, he said, “I urge central govt wid folded hands to urgently provide oxygen to Delhi."
Kejriwal who held a covid-19 review meeting in the evening said, “We are working on a war footing to ensure adequate oxygen supply in Delhi." He also directed officials to increase oxygen beds across covid facilities in the capital.
Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia flagged ‘jungle raj’ with oxygen supplies being stopped and disrupting operations. “People supplying oxygen from other states are being stopped on the way. There should be no jungle raj between the states on the supply of oxygen, for this, the central government will have to be very sensitive and alert," he said.
The Delhi government had on Monday set up a 24-member committee to ensure “rational" use of oxygen for treatment of COVID-19 patients An order issued by the Health Department said the ‘Oxygen Audit Committee’ will identify areas of wasteful consumption. The consumption of oxygen has undergone a quantum increase with the admission of a large number of serious patients who require oxygen support, it said.
Around 2,700 Beds Will Be Added in Next Few Days: Sisodia
Around 2,700 beds will be added at different hospitals and facilities in the national capital in the next few days for COVID-19 patients, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia announced on Tuesday and assured people that there is no need to panic. As the coronavirus crisis deepened further, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced a six-day lockdown in the national capital from 10 pm on Monday till 5 am on April 26, saying it was necessary to deal with the rising number of COVID-19 cases as the city’s health system was stretched to its limit.
“In 2.5 weeks, bed count has gone up by three times here. In the next few days, 2,700 more beds will be arranged. Most of the COVID-19 patients are recovering in home isolation. “I urge those who need hospitals to check the mobile app beforehand for bed availability and then proceed further. The number of COVID-19 beds in Delhi on April 3 was 6,071 which has gone up to 19,101 on April 20," Sisodia said at a virtual press conference. There are 320 beds in Burari Hospital, which will be increased to 800. The capacity of beds at Ambedkar Nagar Hospital will be increased from 200 to 600. The beds at Deen Dayal Upadhyay Hospital will be increased from 250 to 750, he said.
Around 250 beds will be added at Acharya Shree Bhikshu and DRDO’s COVID-19 Centre. The number of beds in the Satyawadi Raja Harishchandra Hospital of Narela will be increased from 200 to 400, the minister said. Sisodia, who is also the Nodal Health Minister of COVID-19, said a Delhi government school will be connected to the LNJP hospital which will include 125 beds and a centre of 500 beds will be set up in the Commonwealth Games Village.
“All these beds will be ready in the next four to five days. There are about 2,500 beds that are still vacant in Delhi. “People should not rush to hospitals in fear, but adopt home isolation as an effective model to treat COVID-19. Home isolation is the most effective way to fight the disease. During home isolation, doctors regularly keep in touch with people over the phone. If you have high fever or severe symptoms, then only go to hospitals," he said. The deputy chief minister appealed to the people not to panic and to follow all the rules of lockdown.
“Before going to a hospital, the people must check the status of bed availability in hospitals on the ‘Delhi Corona App’ as it shall save their time. If a hospital is showing false information on the app or refusing people despite having beds then action will be taken against that facility," he said. Delhi on Monday recorded 240 deaths due to the coronavirus, the highest since the pandemic began over a year ago, and 23,686 cases with a positivity rate of 26.12 per cent. The city has reported 823 deaths due to the deadly virus in a matter of five days.
Economic Interests Cannot Override Human Lives: Delhi High Court
The Delhi High Court on Tuesday said that economic interests can not override human lives and suggested some reduction in steel and petroleum production to divert oxygen to COVID-19 patients. A bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli said if the lockdown continues then everything would come to a halt and therefore, what would be theneed for steel, petrol and diesel during such a situation.
“During lockdown, what would be the development," the court said and asked the Centre why it was waiting till April 22 to ban industrial use of oxygen. “Shortage is now. You have to do it (ban) now. Look into taking some oxygen from steel and petroleum industries. They have big pockets and big lobbies, but tell them if they have to cut production, then they can cut production. Lives have to be saved," the bench said.
The court cited the example of a central government counsel whose father was admitted in hospital and was on oxygen support, but due its scarcity, oxygen was being provided at a reduced pressure to him to conserve it. “Can you ask him to hold on till April 22," the court asked.
It said if nothing was done, then “we are heading for a bigger disaster". “We might end up losing nearly a crore of people. Are we willing to accept that," the bench said.
It also suggested increasing the COVID beds in hospitals which have their own oxygen generating capacity. The observations by the bench came after perusing the Centre’s affidavit which said there was presently no gap in oxygen supply to Delhi and that industrial use of oxygen was banned with effect from April 22.
The Ministry of Health, represented by Additional Solicitor General Chetan Sharma, told the high court that there has been an inordinate increase of 133 per cent in the projected medical oxygen required, as on April 20, between the initial estimate of 300 metric tonnes and revised estimate of 700 metric tonnes submitted by Delhi. The ministry said all the States, including Delhi, have to rationalize the use of oxygen and prohibit abnormal usage and administering oxygen to the patients who do not clinically require the same.
“States have to undertake oxygen consumption monitoring in hospitals including private hospitals and to undertake facility-wise/hospital-wise oxygen inventory mapping and advance planning for timely replenishment so that supply can be efficiently managed," it said. It said that states of Kerala and Madhya Pradesh have come out with simple guidelines to efficiently manage use of oxygen in view of its scarcity.
The Centre also informed the high court that it has provided Delhi government hospitals with around 1,390 ventilators. Earlier in the day, the court had asked the Centre whether oxygen supplied to industries can be diverted for COVID-19 patients.
“Industries can wait. Patients cannot. Human lives are at stake," the bench said. It said it has heard that doctors at Ganga Ram Hospital were being forced to reduce oxygen being given to COVID-19 patients admitted there as there was scarcity of oxygen.
The ministry, in the affidavit filed through central government standing counsel Monika Arora, has also said that in order to increase the capacity of medical oxygen in Delhi, eight Pressure Swing Adsorption (PSA) Oxygen Generation plants are being installed by the support of PM CARES Funds. “These plants would enhance capacity of medical oxygen by 14.4 metric tonnes," the ministry’s affidavit said.
The observations by the bench came during the hearing of a disposed of petition related to COVID-19 tests and the high court revived it on April 19 by noting that the virus has raised its “ugly head" once again and the pandemic is raging with much greater intensity and “it is evident that the healthcare infrastructure is at the stage of imminent collapse".