India Covid: Delhi hospitals plead for oxygen as more patients die

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Hospitals in Delhi continued to send desperate messages for emergency oxygen supplies through the night on Sunday, warning that patients are at risk.

The crisis started two weeks ago but shows no signs of abating.

At least 12 patients, including a doctor, died when a prominent hospital ran out of oxygen on Saturday. Outside hospitals, families of patients who can’t find a bed are struggling to get hold of portable cylinders – sometimes standing in queues for up to 12 hours.

Several big hospitals in Delhi are relying on daily oxygen supplies but they are not getting enough to keep some as backup in case of emergency.

One doctor described the situation as frightening, explaining: “Once you’ve used up your main tank, there is nothing to fall back on.”

The situation is worse still in small hospitals that don’t have storage tanks and have to rely on big cylinders.

And the oxygen crisis comes as coronavirus cases continue to surge.

Delhi alone reported more than 20,000 new infections and 407 deaths on Sunday.

India, meanwhile, over the weekend recorded its highest daily coronavirus death toll since the pandemic began, and became the first country to register more than 400,000 new cases in a single day.

‘It’s a battle every day’
Dr Gautam Singh, who runs the Shri Ram Singh hospital, says he has 50 Covid beds and space for 16 ICU patients, but has had to refuse admissions as there is no guarantee of oxygen supply.

He has put out a number of SOS calls in the past few days, getting oxygen just in time to avoid disaster.

“It’s a battle we are fighting every day,” he says. “Half of my hospital staff are on the road with cylinders to get them filled every day, going from one place to another.”

Below is a recent heart-breaking appeal from him that I tweeted.

Agencies

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