With Delhi witnessing a huge shortage of oxygen in hospitals to treat critical Covid-19 patients, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Saturday requested his counterparts in other states/union territories to provide oxygen to the national capital, if they have spare. He further said that all available resources are proving to be inadequate owing to the severity of the current Covid-19 situation in Delhi.
Pleading for help, Kejriwal tweeted, “I am writing to all CMs requesting them to provide oxygen to Delhi, if they have spare. Though Central govt. is also helping us, the severity of corona is such that all available resources are proving inadequate.”
Every few hours, as it has been for the last days, hospitals across the national capital and its suburbs sent out desperate messages of help on social media and other platforms, flagging their dwindling stocks of oxygen.
‘WE WILL HANG THAT MAN’
Earlier in the day, Delhi High Court said that if any official at the central, state or local administration was obstructing in the picking up or supply of oxygen, then "we will hang that man”. The observation by a bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli came during hearing of a plea by Maharaja Agrasen Hospital over shortage of oxygen for seriously-ill Covid-19 patients.
The court told the Delhi government to give it one instance of who was obstructing the oxygen supply and said, “We will hang that man”. “We will not spare anyone,” the bench added. The court told the Delhi government to inform the Centre also about such officials of the local administration so that it could take action against them.
The court asked the Centre and the Delhi government to coordinate on the issue of making available medical oxygen to hospitals treating Covid-19 patients, observing that citizens cannot be left to die. The court made it clear that the efforts which Delhi government has to make in this regard cannot be trivialised and they should not leave it entirely to the central government.
The Delhi high court had on Friday asked all the hospitals and nursing homes in Delhi facing shortage of oxygen to first approach the nodal officer of the city to meet the requirement of medical oxygen.
However, Kejriwal had on Friday raised alarm that a “big tragedy” may happen due to oxygen shortage in hospitals and said the Centre should take over all oxygen plants through the Army. At a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss Covid-19 situation, Kejriwal had requested him to direct Chief Ministers of all States to ensure smooth movement of oxygen tankers coming to Delhi.
Earlier as well, Kejriwal had urged the Centre “with folded hands” to provide medical oxygen to Delhi and his deputy Manish Sisodia said there will be chaos in the city if the stocks are not replenished.
OXYGEN DWINDLES IN DELHI HOSPITALS
This morning, 20 people died at Delhi’s Jaipur Golden Hospital, their lives ebbing away as the hospital waited for oxygen to be replenished, officials said, day five of a deepening crisis over the scarcity of oxygen vital to save critically ill Covid-19 patients.
On Friday, 25 Covid-19 patients in Delhi’s elite Sir Ganga Ram Hospital died in 24 hours and the lives of many more hung in precarious balance, the scramble for life-saving oxygen getting more frantic in hospitals across the national capital and its suburbs as the day progressed. Sources had said “low pressure oxygen” could be the likely cause of the deaths in Ganga Ram, one of the city’s biggest and most high-profile hospitals, where healthcare staff was reduced to manually ventilating patients in its ICU and emergency department. The hospital announced the deaths shortly after 8 am. After the unprecedented crisis of the morning, an oxygen tanker did reach Ganga Ram in central Delhi at 9.20 am but it was enough to last up to about five hours depending on consumption, an official at Ganga Ram said.
The oxygen emergency was also mirrored at the Max Hospitals and other healthcare facilities too.
Outside the hospitals, too, despair escalated. Ambulances could be seen lined up. Patients waited on stretchers and inside vehicles, some visibly gasping for breath, and family members and friends desperately tried to get their loved ones a bed and treatment. But that was a tall order for a healthcare machinery stretched to its absolute limits.
City hospitals grappled with depleting oxygen supply and, stretched to their limits, some requested the Delhi government to transfer patients to other healthcare facilities. While some hospitals have managed to make short-term arrangements, there is no immediate end to the crisis in sight, a government official had said on Thursday.