New Delhi: Several small hospitals in the city struggled to replenish oxygen supply for coronavirus patients on Thursday morning, even as some big healthcare facilities received fresh stock overnight.
The administration at Shanti Mukund Hospital, a 200-bed facility in East Delhi, put up a notice at the entry gate, reading: "We regret we are stopping admission in hospital because oxygen supply isn't coming."
The Delhi High Court had on Wednesday night ordered the Centre to "forthwith" provide oxygen by whatever means to hospitals here facing shortage of the gas in treating serious COVID-19 patients, observing it "seems human life is not important for the state".
The Central government, represented by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, assured the court that it will facilitate supply of the increased allocation of 480 metric tonnes of oxygen to Delhi and the same will reach the national capital without any obstructions.
However, several private hospitals complained their supplier has not been responding to calls, forcing them to use their backups.
Officials at Saroj Hospital in Rohini said they have run out of oxygen supply.
"The backup, too, won't last long. Of the 120 patients in the hospital at present, 70 are in a critical condition," an official said, adding that many lives will be lost if oxygen supply did not reach the hospital in time.
An official from Shanti Mukund Hospital told PTI they have not been able to get in touch with their oxygen supplier.
"There are 110 coronavirus patients in the hospital right now. We have no option but to send patients to other hospitals," he said.
Dr Sanjeev Sharma, chief operating officer at Delhi Heart and Lung Institute, said their oxygen stock will last till 4 p.m.
"Supplier provided the last refill in the morning; we are on our own. A total of 71 patients are on O2 support," he said.
Officials at the 210-bed Mata Chanan Devi Hospital sent an SOS to the Delhi government as their "oxygen supplier didn't fulfil commitments".
"Around 40 patients are in ICU. We got 500 kg oxygen last night. The supplier was supposed to give more at 4 am, but they have not been picking up calls since then," ICU Head Dr A C Shukla said.
"With the Delhi government's intervention, we have got 21 D-type cylinders, but a continuous supply is needed. The situation is very serious," he added.
Dr Pankaj Solanki, who runs the 50-bed Dharamveer Solanki Hospital, said the hospital is using the "backup" which will last till Thursday afternoon.
Dr Solanki said he had informed officials concerned to transfer out 30 patients.
"The oxygen crisis is at its worst. It is adding more pressure on the functioning. No one is able to help," his tweet read.
Meanwhile, some hospitals received fresh stock overnight and more is likely to come in soon.
Dr Suresh Kumar, the medical director at the Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital, said three tankers carrying oxygen reached the facility last night.
"At 8:30 am, we have around 8 hours of oxygen left. More is coming," he told PTI.
An official at the Sir Ganga Ram Hospital said supply was replenished around 6 am.
"The stock will last till 10 am Friday. Supply from a private vendor is awaited," he said.
Officials at the Burari Hospital said they have "sufficient stock" till afternoon.
Spokesperson of the St Stephen's Hospital said they received fresh supply on Wednesday evening and the stock can last till 4 pm.
"More to come around noon," he added.
Jungle Raj, Says Manish Sisodia
Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia alleged the Uttar Pradesh and Haryana police were blocking oxygen transport to Delhi, and urged the Centre to ensure normal supply even if that meant taking the help of paramilitary forces.
This "jungle raj" has been going on for three days, he said referring to the alleged blocking of oxygen supply.
"Some hospitals in Delhi have run out of oxygen completely. They don't have any option available. I have been receiving calls, messages, e-mails. We have been making internal, makeshift arrangements, but this cannot continue for long," he said.
Sisodia, who is also the nodal minister for COVID-19 management in Delhi, said it will become tough to save lives of coronavirus patients after sometime if hospitals did not get the oxygen supply they need.
"The Centre should take the help of paramilitary forces, if needed, and ensure supply of oxygen to Delhi," he said, adding that else the situation may become "very dangerous" in days to come.
Delhi logged 24,638 coronavirus cases and 249 deaths on Wednesday, as the positivity rate stood at 31.28% -- meaning almost every third sample turned out to be positive -- amid a growing clamour for oxygen and hospital beds in the city.
Only 16 ICU beds for COVID-19 patients were available in hospitals across Delhi at 3 p.m, according to government data.
On Tuesday, the city had recorded 28,395 cases and 277 fatalities, both highest since the pandemic began ravaging countries. The positivity rate was 32.82%, highest so far.
The national capital has reported over 1,350 deaths due to the deadly virus in the last 7 days.