Tribune News Service
New Delhi, April 22
Lives of several critical patients on oxygen support across Delhi’s Covid hospitals continued to hang in balance as supplies ran thin and managements flagged drying stocks, some reporting a mere two hour supply left.
Sunil Sangar, CEO of Shanti Mukund Hospital in the capital broke down today as he said his facility had 110 patients on oxygen and the doctors were unable to maintain full levels of supply needed by each patient and were now rationing to ensure supplies last longer.
“The situation is deplorable. People will die. We have no oxygen. We are now asking doctors to discharge those who can be discharged. We have two hours supply left. We feel helpless. As doctors we have to save lives and today we can’t even give oxygen,” Sangar said, with majority hospitals in the capital saying although they’ve received some supplies those would not last beyond tonight.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a high level meeting to review the oxygen supply across the country and discuss ways and means to boost its availability.
The officials briefed him on the efforts undertaken in the last few weeks to improve the supply of oxygen.
PM Modi spoke about the need to work rapidly on multiple aspects: increasing production of oxygen, increasing the speed of distribution and using innovative ways to provide oxygen support to health facilities.
The PM was informed that an elaborate exercise is being done in coordination with the states to identify their demand for oxygen and ensure adequate supply accordingly.
PM was also briefed on how oxygen supply to states is steadily increasing.
Against the present demand from 20 states of 6,785 MT a day of Liquid Medical Oxygen, Government of India has from April 21, allocated 6,822 MT a day to these states.
It was noted that in the last few days, availability of Liquid Medical Oxygen has been increased by about 3,300 MT a day with contributions from private and public steel plants, industries, oxygen manufacturers as well as through prohibition of supply of oxygen for non-essential industries.
Officers informed the PM that they are working together with the states to operationalize the sanctioned PSA oxygen plants as soon as possible.
The PM directed the officials to ensure that oxygen supply to various states happen in a smooth, unhindered manner.
He spoke about the need to fix responsibility with the local administration in cases of obstruction.
He also asked ministries to explore various innovative ways to increase production and supply of oxygen.
Various measures are being undertaken to rapidly increase the availability of cyrogenic tankers through conversion of nitrogen and argon tankers, import and airlifting of tankers as well as manufacturing them.
PM stressed on the need to ensure faster transportation of oxygen to the states. It was discussed that Railways is being used for rapid and non-stop long distance transport of tankers.
First rake has reached from Mumbai to Vizag to transport 105 MT of LMO. Similarly, empty oxygen tankers are also being air-lifted to oxygen suppliers to reduce one way journey time in oxygen supply.
Representatives from the medical community also spoke about the need for judicious use of oxygen and how an audit in some states has decreased oxygen demand without affecting the condition of patients.
PM also stressed that the states should come down heavily on hoarding.
The meeting was attended by Cabinet Secretary, Principal Secretary to PM, Home Secretary, Health Secretary and Officials from Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Minstry of Road Transport, Pharmaceuticals, NITI Aayog.
The officials said the challenge was of supply of oxygen for which Home Ministry today issued orders for unhindered movement.
Meantime, hospitals continued to gasp for supplies.
Oxygen storage at Gangaram Hospital as of 10 am on April 22 was enough to last a say.
Gangaram chairman DS Rana said Indian Oxygen IOL at 6 am today supplied 2,000 cubic metres and INOX supplied 4,800 cubic metres.
“Earlier in storage tanks 2,000 cubic metres is there. The present storage of 8,800 cubic metres will last till tomorrow 10 am,” Rana said.
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