A hospital in Maharashtra’s Ahmednagar – where around 85 people are being treated for the COVID-19 virus – issued a frantic SOS on Tuesday – that its oxygen reserves would run out in hours.
“Right now there is shortage of oxygen… there has been shortage for the past few days but somehow we were managing. Today there is an acute crisis and we have only three-four hours left… it is a grim situation,” Dr Satish Sonavane of the Maccare Super Speciality Hospital said in a video appeal.
According to Dr Sonavane, of the 85 Covid patients in the hospital 80 per cent – or nearly 70 – are on oxygen support, and a further 25 per cent are on ventilator support as well.
“Local vendors are not able to meet the demand… things could spiral out of control. Normally we would shift some patients to other hospitals… where there is oxygen… but in this situation all hospitals are struggling… none in the city have spare oxygen,” he said.
Dr Sonavane said the city administration was doing its best but red-flagged what doctors and states have highlighted in the past few days – a “massive discrepancy in demand-supply” of medical oxygen.
“Today the demand in Ahmednagar is 60 metric tonnes… but we are receiving only 23. We are hopeful of getting more oxygen by 9 pm but if something goes wrong…,” the doctor’s appeal trailed off.
Dr Sonavane said his hospital had stopped new admissions and spoken to the family members of patients, urging them to shift to another hospital if oxygen support becomes available.
“But everywhere is full…,” he said.
The shortage of medical oxygen in India – battered by a catastrophic second Covid wave – has triggered a full-blown crisis, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi holding multiple emergency meetings, supply being diverted from industries and new plants being set up on a priority basis.
Hospitals across the country are struggling to keep critically ill patients – including those not suffering from a Covid infection but still in need of oxygen support – alive.
In Delhi, authorities at the Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, one of the national capital’s biggest, told NDTV they too were on the brink of disaster – with only eight hours of oxygen supply left.
Madhya Pradesh is another state battling oxygen shortages; on Sunday at least 10 Covid patients died after there was allegedly low pressure in an oxygen tank.
The oxygen crisis – which the centre initially dismissed only to issue a third emergency order in 24 hours – is worse in this wave because more infected people are suffering from breathlessness.
Over 1,700 people died in the previous 24 hours, data from this morning revealed. This is the biggest one-day death count since the pandemic began in December 2019. Over 2.59 lakh new cases were also reported, taking the active caseload past the 20 lakh mark.