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Indian hospitals begged for oxygen when the country set a viral record – The Diplomat


India puts oxygen vessels on special express trains as major hospitals in New Delhi pleaded on social media on Friday for more supplies to save COVID-19 patients who are having difficulty breathing . More than a dozen people died when an oxygen-supplied fire tore through the coronavirus area in a populous western state.

India’s underdeveloped health system is worsening as the world’s worst coronavirus raises the nation, which has set a global record for daily infections for the second day in a row with 332,730 cases.

So far, India has confirmed 16 million cases, second only to the United States in the country of nearly 1.4 billion people. India has recorded 2,263 deaths in the past 24 hours for a total of 186,920 people.

A fire in the hospital’s intensive care unit killed 13 COVID-19 patients in the Virar area of ​​the Mumbai suburbs earlier on Friday.

The situation became worse when hospitals went on social media to beg the government to replenish their oxygen supply and threatened to stop accepting new patients.

A large private hospital chain in the capital, Hospital Max, tweeted that one of their facilities had an oxygen supply in the system for an hour and had been waiting for replenishment early in the morning. Two days earlier, they filed a petition to the Delhi Supreme Court claiming that they were running low on oxygen, endangering the lives of 400 patients, 262 of which are being treated for COVID-19.

Railroad Minister Piyush Goyal said the government had started running oxygen express trains with tankers to meet shortages in hospitals. The Air Force also dispatched oxygen tanks and other equipment to areas of need, and sent doctors and nurses to New Delhi, the government said.

“We have excess oxygen at factories away from where it is needed right now. Saket Tiku, president of the All India Industrial Gas Producers Association, says oxygen transport is a challenge for these plants. “We increased production because the amount of oxygen consumed through the roof was increasing. But we have the biggest limitations and challenge right now is getting it where it’s urgent. “

The Supreme Court told Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government on Thursday it wanted a “national plan” to provide oxygen and essential drugs to treat coronavirus patients.

The Press Trust of India said the Ministry of Defense will dispatch 23 mobile oxygen generators from Germany to help resolve the shortage. Each plant will be able to produce 2,400 liters of oxygen per hour.

The New Delhi government has compiled a list of dozens of public and private hospitals that are facing severe hypoxia.

At another hospital in the capital, questions were raised about whether low oxygen supplies caused death.

The Press Trust of India news agency reports that 25 COVID-19 patients have died at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in the past 24 hours and the lives of 60 others are in danger amid a severe oxygen supply crisis. It quoted unnamed officials as saying “low pressure oxygen” was likely the cause of their death.

Ajoy Sehgal, a spokesperson for the hospital, will not comment on whether 25 patients died from lack of oxygen. He said an oxygen tank worker had just entered the hospital complex and he hoped it would temporarily relieve the depleted supply.

New Delhi TV channel later quoted the president of the hospital as saying that the deaths could not be attributed to lack of oxygen.

On the outskirts of Mumbai, the fire earlier on Friday is the second deadliest incident involving a COVID-19 patient at a hospital this week.

Dilip Shah, CEO of Vijay Vallabh Hospital, said the second-floor fire of the ICU had been extinguished and that some patients in need of oxygen had been transferred to nearby hospitals. Shah says there are currently 90 patients in the hospital, about 70 km (43 miles) north of Mumbai, India’s financial capital.

The cause of the fire is under investigation, he said. PTI quoted government official Vivekanand Kadam as saying an explosion in the ICU air-conditioning equipment before the fire.

On Wednesday, 24 patients using a COVID-19 ventilator died from an oxygen leak at a hospital in Nashik, another city in the state of Maharashtra.

In New Delhi, Akhil Gupta is waiting for a bed for her 62-year-old mother, Suman. On April 2, she got a positive result and had no symptoms for 10 days. After that, she developed a fever and began to feel short of breath.

Over the next two days, her two sons, Nikhil and Akhil, drove around the city, going to every hospital in search of a bed. Sometimes they take their mother with them, sometimes they go on their own. They searched everywhere with no results.

On Friday, they took her mother to the emergency room at Max Hospital in Patparganj, where she was temporarily breathing oxygen as she waited in line for the bed to open inside.

“Currently the doctors are asking us to take her away because they don’t have enough oxygen to keep her in the emergency room. But we didn’t even get any oxygen ambulance to transport her to some other facility, ”said Akhil Gupta.

The family decided to stay in Max and continue to wait for the bed.

“What else can we do?” Akhil said.

A year ago, India was able to avoid the medical oxygen shortages that were raging in Latin America and Africa after transforming the industrial oxygen production system into a network of medical grade.

However, many facilities have turned back to supplying oxygen to industries and now some Indian states are facing such shortages that the Ministry of Health has urged hospitals to do quarantine. Cut.

In October, the government began building new plants for the production of medical oxygen, but for now, about six months later, it is not clear if any of them will come into operation, the Ministry of Health said. know they are being “closely scrutinized for completion soon”.

Oxygen tanks are being shipped to hotspots across the country to meet demand, and several state governments have accused several states of being blocked by other states for their needs.

Ashok Kumar Sharma, 62, was finally oxygenated on Monday at her home in West Delhi. It just happened after days of frantic searching for oxygen tanks from many hospitals, clinics and private distributors.

Kunal, Sharma’s son, said: “I called at least 60 people looking for oxygen tanks, but everyone’s phone numbers were cut off.

Kunal’s father was diagnosed with pneumonia on April 14 and a few days later, he tested positive for COVID-19. Doctors suggested he be put on oxygen immediately. When Kunal couldn’t find anything, he issued an SOS on social media.

“But there is so much black market activity going on. People contacted me to sell the vase at 3 or 4 times the original price, ”said Kunal. He finally got one from a personal contact.

“It’s awful people take advantage of our helplessness,” he said.

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