Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Thursday promised that his government would not let anyone die of oxygen shortage if the Centre allocated 700 metric tonnes of the life-saving gas every day. He also thanked the Centre, the Supreme Court and the Delhi High Court for supplying adequate oxygen on Wednesday, according to ANI.

“Delhi requires 700 metric tonnes of oxygen every day,” Kejriwal said. “We have been requesting the central government to help arrange the same. For the first time yesterday [Wednesday], Delhi received 730 MT of oxygen.”

“If we get an adequate supply of oxygen – 700 tonnes – we will be able to set up 9,000 to 9,500 beds in Delhi,” he added. “We will be able to create oxygen beds. I assure you that we will not let anyone die to a shortage of oxygen in Delhi.” He said that many Delhi hospitals had reduced the number of beds due to oxygen shortage and requested such facilities to increase their capacity again.

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For at least two weeks now, Delhi’s hospitals have been starved of oxygen. Most of them have resorted to putting SOS requests for oxygen on social media, a cycle that repeats itself almost daily, or approach courts. Several hospitals in Delhi have lost patients because of shortages in oxygen.

Since the start of the second Covid wave, Delhi has recorded over 20,000 cases daily. Patients have scrambled for beds, oxygen cylinders and medicines. On Thursday, Delhi reported 19,133 cases, pushing the infection tally in the national Capital to 12,73,035 since the pandemic broke out in January 2020. The toll climbed by 335 to 18,398. The daily positivity rate was 24.29%.

While Delhi has been hit hardest by the oxygen crisis, hospitals in other Covid-hit parts of the country seem to be grappling with the same issue.

In Karnataka’s Chamarajanagar, 23 patients died after a district hospital ran out of oxygen on May 2, though authorities insist not all deaths can be ascribed to the shortage. The Allahabad High Court on May 4 said that deaths of patients in hospitals due to a lack of oxygen “is a criminal act and not less than a genocide” by authorities. Thirteen patients died at the Chengalpattu Government Hospital in Tamil Nadu on Tuesday night following an alleged disruption in oxygen supply.

India on Thursday registered 4,12,262 new coronavirus cases, taking the tally in the country to 2,10,77,410 since the pandemic broke out in January 2020. This is the highest rise in daily cases and the second instance after May 1, when the count rose by more than 4 lakh. The toll climbed by 3,980 deaths – also a record high for India – to 2,30,168.