Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Wednesday said the Centre has increased Delhi’s quota of oxygen to treat coronavirus patients as the city faces unprecedented shortages amid a second wave of the pandemic.
Supplies of medical oxygen in Delhi had been running alarmingly low for the second day on Wednesday, with several top hospitals of the city saying they only had oxygen to last another few hours.
As the crisis deepened, Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia had appealed to the Centre to increase the Capital’s quota of supplies, reported ANI. He said that nearly 18,000 patients were currently admitted to the city’s hospitals, and were in need of critical care.
Father George, the director of Holy Family Hospital, told NDTV that they had around 400 patients on oxygen support, with supplies enough to only last till Wednesday evening. A similar situation prevailed in St Stephen’s hospital, which had 500 patients and only two hours of oxygen left.
Delhi’s healthcare infrastructure is bursting at the seams as the city reports thousands of new coronavirus cases every day amid a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic. This has led to a chronic shortage of oxygen supplies, hospital beds and timely medical care.
On Tuesday, too, hospitals had warned they were dangerously low on oxygen supplies, with government facilities reporting they only had enough oxygen to last another eight hours while some private ones had enough for just four or five hours.
After Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal implored the Centre to do something about the acute shortage of oxygen supplies, and the Delhi High Court ordered the Centre to take urgent steps, some of the city’s medical facilities received replenishments before dawn on Wednesday.
But by evening, several hospitals in the city were running out of oxygen again.
At the Indraprastha Apollo hospital, authorities warned the supplies were “dangerously low”. “This would have serious ramifications for our patients, especially the over 350 oxygen dependent Covid-19 patients,” Apollo’s Managing Director P Shivakumar told NDTV.
Delhi’s Max Hospitals put out a statement saying they had only two hours of oxygen left at Max Shalimar Bagh and three hours at Max Patparganj. The two hospitals between them have over 500 Covid patients.
Haryana, Delhi spat over supplies
The serious oxygen crisis has also become a bone of contention between the governments of Haryana and Delhi as authorities wrestle to shore up supplies to treat patients. Both sides blamed each other for disrupting supplies.
Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia alleged that authorities in Haryana were stalling trucks carrying oxygen to the Capital by not letting them pass through the state.
“I have received a report that a local administration officer in Faridabad, Haryana stopped a truck transporting oxygen, which delayed the supply,” he said, according to ANI. “Yesterday [Tuesday] also, we faced a similar transportation issue, we had to call a senior Cabinet minister, only after he helped, Oxygen transport to Delhi was started.”
Earlier on Wednesday, Haryana Health Minister Anil Vij alleged that an oxygen tanker that had been on its way to Faridabad via the Capital was “looted” by the Delhi government. “We are being forced to give our oxygen to Delhi,” the minister said. “First, we will complete our needs, then give to others.”
Farmers blocking supplies, claims BJP
Meanwhile, Bharatiya Janata Party leaders blamed farmers for the oxygen crisis in the Capital, saying the delays in supplies were caused because of the demonstrations going on at Delhi’s borders against the new agriculture laws.
“Delhi is choking for oxygen because national highways leading to the city have been blocked by Andolan-Jeevis, leading to suppliers losing precious time,” party leader Amit Malviya said in a tweet on Wednesday. “Kejriwal has been feeding these protests with an eye on Punjab elections next year,”
BJP MP Parvesh Verma also alleged that transportation of medical use oxygen into Delhi was hampered due to the road blockade caused by protestors, reported The Print.
The farmers rejected the allegations, calling it false propaganda. “Yes, we are protesting but not against COVID-19 patients, corona warriors or common citizens,” the Samyukta Kisan Morcha, a representative body of several protesting farmer unions, said. “We are against the government’s discriminatory policy on agriculture...This is completely false news.”
Tens of thousands of farmers protesting the new agricultural laws have been camping on the outskirts of the Capital in tents and makeshift townships since November.