Delhi records 350 COVID deaths, lockdown extended by another week

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New Delhi, Apr 25 (PTI) Delhi recorded 350 COVID-19 deaths on Sunday with the government deciding to extend the ongoing lockdown for another week, while a few hospitals struggled to arrange continuous supply of oxygen.

While the situation was better at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital on Sunday with the officials saying it is the first time in three days that all patients are getting the life-saving gas at 'normal pressure', several hospitals including Pentamed, Jaipur Golden and Gandhi Hospital, took to social media to send out SOS messages about dwindling stocks.

The Jaipur Golden Hospital denied admission requests from more patients, a day after it reported 20 deaths amid shortage of the life-saving gas.

Delhi government officials said the received medical oxygen is much less than a demand of 700 metric ton daily even as the Railways announced that first Oxygen Express train for the city carrying around 70 tonnes of the life-saving gas will depart from Jindal Steel Works plant in Raigarh, Chhattisgarh on Sunday night.

Central government sources said that eight pressure swing adsorption (PSA) oxygen generation plants are being installed in Delhi from the PM-Cares fund and they will enhance the capacity of medical oxygen by 14.4 metric tonnes.

According to the health bulletin, Delhi recorded 22,933 cases with a positivity rate of 30.21 per cent on Sunday. This is the fourth day on the trot that Delhi has recorded over 300 deaths due to coronavirus. It had reported 357 fatalities, the highest so far since the pandemic began a year ago, on Saturday, 348 on Friday and 306 on Thursday. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday announced extension of the ongoing lockdown in Delhi for another week, saying the severity of COVID-19 is unabated and positivity rate has been as high as 36 per cent in the last few days.

The lockdown imposed on April 19 night will now continue till 5 am on May 3, he said. Before extension, it was scheduled to end at 5 am on April 26.

Kejriwal also appealed to leading industrialists of the country to help provide oxygen and cryogenic tankers to Delhi amid an acute shortage of the life-saving gas required to save serious COVID-19 patients.

Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia also urged hospitals in Delhi not to raise alarms unnecessarily over oxygen shortage and appealed to the media to verify claims before reporting.

Such acts hamper efforts to provide help to hospitals that really need assistance, Sisodia, who is also the nodal minister for COVID-19 management in Delhi, said.

Through the past week, hospitals across the city and its suburbs, including Ganga Ram and Max Healthcare as well as smaller facilities, sounded the alarm about dwindling stocks on social media and other platforms.

With nine metric tonnes of oxygen supplied to it on Sunday, officials at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital here said, 'The hospital did not have to press the panic button the whole day. No SOS calls were made. We hope the night also passes peacefully.' The Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan (LNJP) Hospital here received a supply of the life-saving gas in a cryogenic tanker around 10 am on Sunday. It came as a huge relief for the hospital, which was running on its backup stock of oxygen.

The Jaipur Golden Hospital in Delhi continued to scramble for a continuous oxygen supply and denied admission requests from more patients on Sunday, a day after it reported 20 deaths amid shortage of the life-saving gas.

The hospital currently has around 205 patients, out of which 60 are in a critical condition. Twenty-five patients need high flow oxygen.

'We are having to deny SOS admission requests for COVID patients requiring hospital care,' it tweeted.

'Erratic oxygen supply means we are struggling to ensure our current patients get the care they need. Ensure oxygen supply so we can help all Delhiites in need.' Around 6 pm, Medical director D K Baluja said he had been assured by officials that a tanker would reach within half an hour. PTI GVS VIT MG GJS KJ KJ