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India Covid-19 crisis: Mumbai mosque supplies free oxygen cylinders to grateful patients

Linah Baliga/Mumbai
Filed on April 29, 2021

Community care helps save 52 precious lives.


Fifty-two Covid-19 patients have recovered at Mumbra near Thane in the densely populated Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) — thanks to the timely intervention of a mosque and a madrassa, which supplied them with oxygen cylinders for free.

Mumbra, which has a population of 1.2 million — 95 per cent of which is Muslim — and the suburban town’s community members closed their ranks to do "khidmat" (service) during the holy month of Ramadan, which started in India on April 14.

Mufti Mohammed Ashraf is the brains behind setting up the oxygen centre at Taqwa Masjid in Mumbra.

He said: "We’re delivering up to 20 cylinders at people's homes from the mosque daily. No hospital beds are available in Mumbra. Doctors prescribe medicines and tell patients to administer oxygen within the confines of their homes," said Mufti Ashraf.

The mosque has set up a team comprising 20 doctors, who rush to Covid-19 patients undergoing treatment at home and take a call at what saturation level oxygen should be administered to them.

"We’ve 28 volunteers who work in two shifts. We wanted to convert the mosque into a makeshift Covid-19 care centre, but didn’t get permission from the civic authorities," he said.

Mufti Ashraf said the response has been tremendous and those who were inconvenienced due to low saturation levels have recovered.

"They got timely oxygen and many lives were saved. Muslims are supposed to compulsorily donate 2.5 per cent of their salary during the holy month of Ramadan. We saw that people were dying due to lack of oxygen," he said.

At least 52 lives could be saved because of the timely delivery of oxygen.

Mumbra has been recording at least 29 Covid-19 cases a day, and on odd days, it could be zero.

Over 100 Covid-19 cases were recorded till March.

Maulana Azizur Rahman Qasim, who leads the prayers at the mosque, said an acute shortage of oxygen has been causing the deaths of Covid-19 patients.

“In our neighbourhood, two of my friends died as they couldn’t get a bed in a hospital. These heartbreaking incidents were the germane thought to open the oxygen centre on April 20," he said.

Residents from Kismet Colony and Shilphata in Mumbra are visiting the mosque for oxygen cylinders.

Maulana Azizur said that they wanted to put the mosque and madrassa to good use for people and not just help residents with oxygen supply but also their daily ration and grocery items.

Patients are grateful to the mosque authorities for their good turn. At least three Covid-19 patients are isolated at home, who couldn’t be admitted to a hospital due to lack of space.

"They thank us for this free service which saves them from hospital trips as patients gradually recover at home," said Maulana Azizur.

Maulana Saud Mazgaonkar, a trustee and vice-principal in Taqwa madrassa at Kismet colony in Kausa near Thane, said that the patients' kin come in with their Aadhar identity cards, and take away the oxygen cylinders.

"We’re happy that lives are being saved because of our good deeds. We have 20 cylinders that are also refilled by us. The patients’ kin come with a doctor’s certificate and pay Dh100 as a security deposit," said Maulana Saud.

Community to the rescue

On Thursday, a fire broke out at Prime Criticare hospital at Kausa in Mumbra and four patients succumbed to the blaze.

A 100-bed Covid-19 facility was also started at Param Keshav Bagh banquet hall by Vagad Visa Oswal Samaj, an initiative of the Kutchi community at Ghatkopar in Mumbai.

Three patients who were shifted to this facility after a hospital in Virar caught fire recounted their accounts on the facilities.

"I’ve fully recovered from the viral infection and so has my mother. There are doctors, nurses and consultants 24x7. There’s oxygen support and concentrators for mild to moderate Covid-19 patients and also daily yoga classes. They served us soups, kadhas and turmeric milk for our speedy recovery," said a patient.

Deepak Shah, who runs the Covid Care Centre-2 at Ghatkopar, said that symptomatic patients are admitted at the facility.

“We have five litres of oxygen in stock and can provide 10 cylinders. We don’t have an intensive care unit (ICU) and ventilators. Doctors are available round the clock. We provide lunch, dinner, breakfast. At least 45 patients have recovered since April 12, when it was opened,” Shah added.





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