Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday said that his government will import 21 oxygen plants from France and 18 cryogenic tankers from Thailand. Delhi is facing an acute shortage of oxygen as the coronavirus cases in the national Capital as well as the country have increased at an alarming rate amid the second wave of the pandemic.
At a digital briefing, Kejriwal said that the Delhi government was facing problems with the Centre’s oxygen allotment due to scarcity of tankers. “If the 18 tankers from Bangkok start arriving from tomorrow [Wednesday], the problem of transporting oxygen will be resolved and we will start getting oxygen supplies,” he said.
The chief minister said that the 21 plants from France are ready to use and will be installed at different hospitals once they arrive.
Kejriwal said the city faced the worst of the oxygen crisis on April 22, 23 and 24. On April 23, as many as 25 “sickest” coronavirus patients died overnight at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital due to scarcity of oxygen at the medical facility. A day later, at least 20 coronavirus patients died due to a shortage of oxygen at the city’s Jaipur Golden Hospital. Last week, many hospitals took to social media to plead with the government to replenish their oxygen supplies and threatened to stop admissions of new patients.
“The situation has improved considerably now,” Kejriwal said on Tuesday. “In the last two days, you will see that such SOS messages [distress messages]... have reduced. For this, the teams of Delhi government and the Centre have worked together.”
He said that the Centre too has given five tankers to the Delhi government for oxygen supplies. The chief minister also announced that the Delhi government will set up 44 oxygen plants at various hospitals in the next month. This will include the 21 being imported from France and eight by the Centre.
Kejriwal said the current wave is more dangerous and the health condition of the residents infected with the disease was quite serious. “This time the highest demand is for intensive care unit beds... and even with all our efforts, hospitals are overloaded,” he added.
He said the Centre provided 500 intensive care unit beds at a facility near the airport. “You will be surprised to know that as soon as the facility was ready and we announced it, they were full by three hours,” Kejriwal said.
The chief minister said the government was also preparing three facilities in the city with a total of 1,200 beds. These facilities will be ready by May 12, he added.
Delhi on Monday recorded 20,201 new coronavirus cases, pushing the overall infection tally in the national Capital to 10,47,916 since the pandemic broke out in January last year. The daily positivity rate was 35.02% and 380 new deaths, a record high, were reported. The toll stood at 14,628.