Some of the major government and private hospitals in Delhi received supplies of medical oxygen in the early hours of Wednesday after asking for urgent help from the Centre to treat coronavirus patients, PTI reported. Government hospitals had said they only had enough oxygen to last another eight to 12 hours, while some private ones had stock for just four or five hours.

Prominent facilities, including Sir Ganga Ram Hospital and Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital, were merely hours away from running out of supply. But crisis was averted just in time, officials said.

Ganga Ram Hospital received 4,500 cubic metres of oxygen supply from a private vendor before 3 am. Another supplier sent 6,000 cubic metres later.

“The total requirement at present is 11,000 cubic metres,” chairperson DS Rana told NDTV. “The supply should last 24 hours till 9 am tomorrow. Indian Oxygen and Inox have promised to refill the tanks during the day.”

All the 132 Intensive Care Unit beds in Ganga Ram Hospital are occupied. Only three of the 487 non-ICU beds are vacant.

An official at the Guru Tegh Bahadur Hospital told PTI that a truck carrying oxygen from a firm reached around 1.30 am. Around 10.20 pm on Tuesday, Health Minister Satyendar Jain had said that oxygen stock in GTB Hospital, the second largest Delhi government hospital, may not last beyond 2 am and sought assistance from the Narendra Modi government.

Dr Suresh Kumar, medical director of the Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital, said a truck carrying oxygen from a vendor reached the facility around 3 am. All the 400 ICU beds in LNJP and GTB hospital are currently occupied.

Ambedkar Nagar Hospital received a fresh supply of oxygen at 5 am, which officials said can last 24 hours.

Officials at the Max Hospital in East Delhi’s Patparganj told NDTV that a consignment from oxygen firm Inox was supposed to reach at 2 am, but arrived only at 8 am. They said the six-hour delay was “nightmarish”, adding that the oxygen stock will not last beyond Wednesday afternoon. Of the 300 patients admitted in the hospital, 200 are on oxygen support.

Another facility that received oxygen supplies late on Tuesday was the government-run Deen Dayal Upadhyay hospital.

Delhi reported a record 28,395 coronavirus cases and 277 deaths on Tuesday. This is the highest figure since the pandemic broke out in Delhi in March last year. The positivity rate shot up to 32.82% – meaning every third test sample for the infection came out positive – amid the serious shortage of oxygen to treat patients.

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had urged the Centre “with folded hands” to provide medical oxygen to Delhi. His deputy Manish Sisodia warned there will be chaos in the city if the stocks are not replenished by Wednesday morning.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Delhi High Court asked the Centre why it was waiting till April 22 to ban the use of oxygen in industries amid the severe shortage in the national Capital. “Industries can wait,” the court said. “Patients cannot. Human lives are at stake. We assume the government is applying its mind to the need of the area and seriousness of the situation. Otherwise people will have blood on their hands...then we are doomed.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said India faced a coronavirus storm, which was overwhelming its health system. He assured the citizens that the Centre was working with state governments and private companies to deliver oxygen to hospitals amid the crisis.