Coronavirus Pandemic

India Covid crisis: Delhi hospitals issue SOS alerts over oxygen supplies

Web Report/Delhi
Filed on April 23, 2021 | Last updated on April 23, 2021 at 12.30 pm

The hospital group also filed a petition at night and the Delhi high court held an emergency hearing.

The pathetic oxygen supply situation in Delhi got exacerbated on Thursday night and Friday morning, with the Max hospital chain initially declaring it would not admit patients until oxygen was available but retracting soon after getting emergency supplies.

Watch: Covid crisis in India deepens

The complicated case involved over 700 patients at its hospitals, the central and state governments and high court judges hearing a petition at night in Delhi.

The hospital initially said on Twitter: "We regret to inform that we are suspending any new patient admissions in all our hospitals in Delhi NCR till oxygen supplies stabilize.”

In its SOS message, it added: "SOS - Less than an hour's Oxygen supplies at Max Smart Hospital & Max Hospital Saket. Awaiting promised fresh supplies from INOX since 1 am. Over 700 patients admitted, need immediate assistance," it tweeted including the Prime Minister's Office, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.

Soon thereafter, it posted an update: “We have received emergency supplies at Max Saket and Max Smart which will last another two hours. We are still awaiting more supplies."

The hospital group also filed a petition at night and the Delhi high court held an emergency hearing. The judges told the authorities that they were not “exploring all avenues to augment oxygen supply. Beg, borrow or steal," the High Court told the Indian government, and asked why it was not waking up to the gravity of the emergency situation.

The bench severely reprimanded the Central Government for granting exemptions to the steel and petroleum industries, thus prohibiting the use of oxygen for industrial purposes for medical purposes.

The judges also told the government to divert the entire supply from industries particularly steel and petroleum. “If Tatas can divert their oxygen, why can't others do it? This is the height of greed if we can say that. There is no humanity left or what? How is this that the government is so oblivious to the ground reality? We can't have people die. The reality is that there is no oxygen. You have to arrange. Hospitals have run dry."

The government claimed that the ban on industrial oxygen meant factories needed 72 hours to shut down their operations. But the judges were unmoved that said: "Citizens can only fall back on the state. So you have to beg, borrow or steal and ensure the protection of fundamental emergency." It also told the government that “if there are any casualties tonight, it is your responsibility."

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