Doctor among 12 dead after Delhi hospital runs out of oxygen; other facilities also sound alarm

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New Delhi, May 1 (PTI) Twelve COVID-19 patients, including a senior doctor, died at south Delhi's Batra Hospital after the facility ran out of medical oxygen for around 80 minutes on Saturday afternoon, while several other hospitals sounded the alarm about their dwindling stocks of the life-saving gas.

The tragic incident occurred in less than two weeks of twenty coronavirus patients dying at Jaipur Golden Hospital and 25 at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital amid oxygen crises in the national capital.

R K Himthani, head of the gastroenterology department of Batra Hospital, was among those who died due to lack of oxygen, S C L Gupta, medical director of the hospital said, adding that Himthani was admitted to the facility for the last 15-20 days.

Gupta said they had informed the authorities about lack of oxygen on Saturday morning when they had 2,500 litres of the gas left.

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

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, whose government has been demanding 976 metric tonnes of oxygen from the Centre against the existing allotted 490 MT quota, said that the lives of COVID-19 patients could have been saved by giving them oxygen on time.

'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.

Sudhanshu Bankata, executive director of the Batra Hospital, said that once a patient is pushed to the edge without the support of oxygen, it is very difficult to revive him.

'Unfortunately, we are expecting more fatalities,' added Bankata.

Meanwhile, several hospitals, including Delhi government-run GTB Hospital and Rajiv Gandhi Super Speciality Hospital, Saturday sounded the alarm on their dwindling oxygen supply.

The national capital has been facing acute shortage of oxygen due to spiralling cases of coronavirus cases.

Earlier in the day, Kejriwal said that the AAP government's demand is 976 metric tonnes of oxygen per day, but the Centre has allotted just 490 MT, adding that on Friday, the city administration received just 312 MT.

According to official record, Delhi had got 305 metric tonnes of oxygen on April 25, followed by 408 MT on April 26, 398 MT on April 27, 431MT on April 28 and 409 MT on April 29.

The chief minister said that as opposed to the demand of 976 MT, only 490 MT oxygen has been allocated to Delhi and is getting only 312 MT.

He said that if given what is required, then his government can increase 9,000 beds in the next 24 hours.

'We are facing a lot of trouble regarding oxygen. Even today, we received SOS calls from hospitals all across Delhi - with only one hour of oxygen left or only half an hour of oxygen left.

'A lot of difficult situations are emerging. We have conveyed it to the courts as well as written to the central government that Delhi has a requirement of 976 metric tonnes per day. Against the 976 metric tonnes, we have been allotted 490 metric tonnes oxygen, but we are not even getting the 490 metric tonnes,' Kejriwal said.

Talking about why patients are asked to wait outside hospitals, he said, 'It is only because of oxygen. In Radha Soami Satsang Beas, we have prepared 5,000 beds but only 150 beds are functional because there is no oxygen. In the Commonwealth Games and Yamuna Sports Complex, we have prepared for 1,300 beds, but there is no oxygen,' he said.

In Burari, the AAP government has arranged for 2,500 beds, he said, adding that if we get oxygen today the 9,000 oxygenated beds will be ready in Delhi within 24 hours.

'There is no oxygen. Delhi does not produce its own oxygen, to whom do we go, from whom should we borrow oxygen,' Kejriwal added.

On its part, the central government alleged that the Delhi government has failed to arranged tankers for transportation of oxygen for the city's hospitals.

Earlier this week, the chief minister had said that due to shortage of tankers, the Delhi government was also facing problems in transporting its oxygen quota decided by the Centre.

On April 27, he had announced that his government would import 18 cryogenic tankers from Thailand and 21 ready-to-use oxygen plants from France.

In a recent hard-hitting letter to Delhi Chief Secretary Vijay Dev, Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla had said the AAP government's efforts to resolve logistical issues for procuring oxygen have 'not been up to the mark' at a time when other states and union territories have been making earnest and professional efforts on the matter.

Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia had recently written to Union minister Piyush Goyal saying that the Centre raise city's daily quota of medical oxygen from 490 MT to 976 MT.

He had said that thousands of beds for COVID-19 patients would be ready within next ten days.

Delhi on Friday recorded 375 deaths due to the coronavirus and 27,047 fresh cases with a positivity rate of 32.69 per cent, according to the latest bulletin issued by the city health department. PTI SLB GVS VIT BUN BUN AAR AAR