(Eds: Adding guardian minister's quote) Latur, Apr 21 (PTI) Relatives of COVID-19 patients took to the streets on Wednesday after a private hospital informed them about the shortage of oxygen at the facility in Maharashtra's Latur city, an official said.
A senior district official has, however, claimed that although there was a shortage of the life-saving gas, the supply has not been stopped.
A private hospital in Latur city intimated the kin of COVID-19 patients about the shortage of oxygen, following which relatives attempted to agitate at Shivaji Chowk area around 8 am, the official said.
The police managed to counsel the angry kin and cleared the road in 15 to 20 minutes, he said.
The director of the hospital has alleged that the facility has not been given enough medical oxygen to treat critical patients.
'The hospital has the capacity to treat 50 critical patients. My demand is 200 cylinders, but I was given 10 from one agency, despite paying an advance for the same,' he said.
The district collector had been appraised about the situation, but he did not it seriously, the doctor claimed.
The hospital has 30 ICU beds and 20 patients are on ventilators, and some of them may need a large amount of oxygen, he said.
'The hospital is ready to set up an oxygen plant if the state government gives us space for it. If the situation persists, we might have to stop taking in patients,' the hospital head added.
When contacted, collector Prithviraj B P said, 'There is a crunch of oxygen but the supply has not been stopped.' Latur on Tuesday recorded 1,477 fresh COVID-19 cases that took the tally of infections to 58,240, which includes 988 casualties. The district currently has 16,200 active cases.
Meanwhile, Latur Guardian Minister Amit Deshmukh said the district has been getting adequate supply of oxygen and relatives of patients should not panic.
'It is true that the demand for oxygen has increased due to the surge in infections. But the district is getting the required amount of oxygen and there is no reason to panic,' he said in an official release.
The administration and health officials are working day and night to treat patients, Deshmukh said.
'We are doing our best to provide medicines, oxygen and other facilities to patients who are undergoing treatment at both government and private hospitals,' he said.
The minister also appealed to doctors to use the available oxygen judiciously, as the current situation is unprecedented.
'We have to accept the fact that there is a shortage of oxygen and its need has increased across the country. So, you have to use the available oxygen as much as you need.
Doctors and hospital managements should ensure that incidents of wastage do not occur,' he said in the statement. PTI COR AW ARU ARU