Severe Oxygen Shortage: Delhi Hospitals Forced to Use Back Up Stock, Others Ask Kin to Shift Patients

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Amid deepening crisis over the scarcity of oxygen, several hospitals in the national capital have been left with no option but to use their back up stock, with some like Saroj Super Speciality Hospital advising relatives to shift their patients to another facility. While Fortis Hospital (Shalimar Bagh), presently running on its back up oxygen supply, urged the prime minister, Delhi chief minister and other ministers for "immediate assistance", Saroj Super Speciality, having not received oxygen refill for the past 44 hours, is now advising its patients to shift to other hospitals. "We are running low on oxygen and using our back up now. We have alerted our patients about the situation, and are advising them to shift to another hospital. Things are really uncertain," said PK Bhardwaj, medical director, Saroj Super Speciality Hospital. Bhardwaj said the hospital, which needs three metric tonnes of oxygen per day on average, was only getting around one metric tonne for the past few days.

Seventy patients at the hospital are on oxygen supply currently. Twenty critically-ill patients died overnight at Jaipur Golden Hospital in Delhi amid a serious oxygen crisis. The hospital, which has over 200 patients, had only half-an-hour of oxygen left left at 10:45 am. The situation is equally worrisome at the Fortis Hospital in Shalimar Bagh which is running on its back up oxygen supply, desperately waiting for the refill since morning.

"Fortis Healthcare @fortis_hospital #SOS Fortis Shalimar bagh is running out of oxygen. Patients' lives are at risk. We are running on backup, waiting for supplies since morning. We are currently suspending admissions. Request immediate assistance @PMOIndia @ArvindKejriwal @AmitShah @PiyushGoyal @rajnathsingh," tweeted the hospital. The hospital said it is keeping the patients and attendants informed about the "critical situation", and trying to manage admitted patients to the best of their abilities.

Other hospitals which got fresh supplies claimed their O2 stock would get exhausted in a few hours only. Batra Hospital in Tughlakabad Institutional area, which received emergency oxygen supply from the Delhi government moments after it exhausted its stock around 9 am, said their stock will "last another one-and-a-half hours".

"Just now, we received an emergency supply from the Delhi government. It will last another one-and-a-half hours. Our supplier has not been responding to calls," Executive Director of Batra hospital, Sudhanshu Bankata, said, adding that the facility exhausted its oxygen stock around 9 am. There are around 350 patients admitted at the hospital, of which 265 are COVID-19 positive and 30 are in the ICU.

Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, in the heart of the national capital, which requires a minimum of 11,000 cubic metres of oxygen daily was left with 200 cubic metres when a tanker with 1.5 tonnes of oxygen arrived, officials said. "We were running oxygen at half the normal pressure. This supply of 1.5 tonnes of oxygen will last for may be two hours. The situation is scary," an official said.

Twenty-five COVID patients in the elite hospital died in 24 hours and the lives of many more hung in precarious balance on Friday with the scramble for oxygen getting more frantic in hospitals across the national capital and its suburbs. Delhi logged 24,331 fresh COVID-19 cases and a record single-day jump of 348 deaths on Friday while the positivity rate stood at 32.43 per cent, according to the latest health bulletin.

The city has reported around 2,100 deaths due to the deadly virus in 11 days.

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