12 COVID-19 patients, including doctor, die at Delhi hospital due to oxygen shortage

·3-min read

New Delhi, May 1 (PTI) Twelve COVID-19 patients, including the head of the gastroenterology department, of Batra Hospital here died allegedly due to oxygen shortage, officials said on Saturday.

'Once a patient is pushed beyond the edge without the support of oxygen, it is very difficult to revive him as he is hanging in the balance. Unfortunately, we are expecting more fatalities,' said Sudhanshu Bankata, the executive director of the hospital.

'In the next 24-48 hours, the death rate will be higher than the average we had over the past few days. All the patients, who were destabilised during the one hour and 20 minutes of oxygen not being there will also be compromised,' he said.

R K Himthani, the head of the gastroenterology department, was among those who died due to lack of oxygen, said S C L Gupta, medical director of the hospital.

Himthani was admitted to the hospital for the last 15-20 days, he said.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal expressed grief over the incident.

'This news is very painful. Their lives could have been saved -- by giving them oxygen on time. Delhi should get its quota of oxygen. Can't see our people dying like this. Delhi needs 976 tonnes of oxygen, but it received only 312 tonnes yesterday. How will Delhi breathe in such a less amount of oxygen?' he said on Twitter in Hindi.

The hospital had sent out an SOS message about oxygen shortage on Saturday.

Bankata said that Delhi was not getting its allocated amount of oxygen and the problem was aggravated on Saturday as the government did not have a reserve tanker.

'The entire cycle will play out again because Delhi does not have its quota of oxygen. The same crisis will play out over and over again,' he said, adding, 'We have oxygen support till 8-9 am tomorrow but we don't know when the next supply will arrive.' Gupta said they had informed the authorities about the lack of oxygen on Saturday morning when they had 2,500 litres of the life-saving gas left.

Around 12.30 pm, the hospital authorities claimed they had run out of oxygen. An oxygen tanker arrived at 1.35 pm, they said, adding that they were without oxygen for 80 minutes.

The hospital had 332 patients at the start of the day and had frozen admissions during the oxygen crisis. Admissions were opened up later.

The number of COVID-19 patients is at the hospital is now at 307.

Hospitals across the national capital and its suburbs have been sending out desperate messages of help on social media and other platforms, flagging their dwindling stocks of oxygen.

Sir Ganga Ram Hospital had last week reported the death of 25 of its sickest patients as the administration struggled with depleting oxygen supplies.

Twenty people died at the Jaipur Golden Hospital last week amid a shortage of oxygen.

Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia had on Friday said that not for a single day has Delhi been able to receive the allocated quantity of 490 MT of oxygen. PTI GVS/SLB NSD