More number of beds to be added once oxygen crisis is resolved: Delhi health minister

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New Delhi, Apr 22 (PTI) Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain on Thursday said the number of beds will be increased in large numbers for coronavirus patients once the “oxygen crisis” in the national capital is resolved.

He also said around 800 ICU beds are likely to be added in central government hospitals soon.

“We have also demanded that the Centre give us 7,000 beds for two weeks. So far, 2,000 beds have been given,” he told reporters.

The number of beds are being increased, but Delhi has been facing a “serious problem” with regard to oxygen supply for the last three days, Jain said.

The Centre increased Delhi's quota of oxygen on Wednesday (from 378 metric tonnes to 480 metric tonnes). However, oxygen is also needed for new COVID centres being operationalised in Delhi, the minister said.

“Beds for COVID patients will be increased in a large number once this crisis ends,” the minister said.

Jain said hospitals in Delhi grappled with a shortage of oxygen the entire night. “The supply had almost finished in some hospitals. Thereafter, small quantities of oxygen were distributed among hospitals,” he said.

On Thursday morning, several small hospitals in Delhi struggled to replenish oxygen supply for their patients, even as some big healthcare facilities received fresh stock overnight.

The Delhi High Court had on Wednesday night ordered the Centre to 'forthwith' provide oxygen by whatever means to hospitals here facing shortage of the gas in treating serious COVID-19 patients, observing it “seems human life is not important for the state”.

The central government, represented by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, assured the court that it will facilitate supply of the increased allocation of 480 metric tonnes of oxygen to Delhi and the same will reach the national capital without any obstructions.

However, several private hospitals complained that no help has reached them.

Officials at the 210-bed Mata Chanan Devi Hospital sent an SOS to the Delhi government as their “oxygen supplier didn't fulfil commitments”.

“Around 40 patients are in ICU. We got 500 kg oxygen last night. The supplier was supposed to give more at 4 am, but they have not been picking up calls since then,” the hospital's ICU head Dr A C Shukla said.

“With the Delhi government's intervention, we have got 21 D-type cylinders, but a continuous supply is needed. The situation is very serious,” he added.

Dr Pankaj Solanki, who runs Dharamveer Solanki Hospital, a facility with 50 beds, said they are using the “back up” which will last till Thursday afternoon.

Dr Solanki said he had informed officials concerned to transfer out 30 patients.

“The oxygen crisis is at its worst. It is adding more pressure on the functioning. No one is able to help,” his tweet posted on Wednesday evening read.

Dr Sanjeev Shama, chief operating officer at Delhi Heart and Lung Institute, says only three hours of oxygen was left at 12:30 pm. 'The supplier provided the last refill in the morning, Now, we are on our own.' Seventy-one patients are on oxygen support in the hospital, he said. PTI GVS HDA HDA