Battling an acute shortage of oxygen, some hospitals in Delhi on Sunday sent out desperate SOS calls to authorities to replenish their dwindling stocks, with one healthcare facility even requesting the government to shift out its patients. Madhukar Rainbow Children's Hospital in Malviya Nagar on Sunday sounded an alarm about their depleting stocks around noon, saying 50 people, including four newborns, were "at risk".
Later, at night, the hospital said it will not take any admission which requires oxygen or ventilation support "due to inconsistent liquid oxygen supply."
The hospital does not have an oxygen storage tank and depends on oxygen cylinders from a private vendor.
"It has become a daily fire-fight in the absence of a continuous supply. We require around 125 oxygen cylinders a day," the head of the hospital, Dinesh Vashishth, said.
The hospital said it received 20 oxygen cylinders around 1:30 pm with the help of government authorities.
Aakash Healthcare in Dwarka appealed to government authorities to shift patients to other facilities "so that they can be saved".
"CRY FOR HELP: Received only 5 #oxygen cylinders after running around the entire day, not more than 60 mins left to save lives of more than 250 patients," a tweet posted from the hospital's handle read.
In the evening, Yateesh Wahaal, CEO of Vimhans Hospital in South Delhi, requested "urgent support to save precious lives".
He said the hospital supplier has been changed as per the government order. The new supplier is "refusing to supply and doesn't have stock for the next seven days to meet our requirement".
Around 135 patients are on oxygen support. Of these, 94 are in the ICU, he said.
Sitaram Bhartia Institute of Science and Research also took to social media seeking help from authorities.
"Forty-five COVID patients admitted. Need liquid oxygen supply by 5 PM. Help!!" it tweeted.
At 6:10 pm, the hospital tweeted it received emergency oxygen cylinders that are "expected to provide some air for 2-3 hours. Hanging by a thin thread. Need LMO on emergency basis".
"We have just received LMO. A big thank you @DMSouthDelhi," the hospital tweeted around 11 pm.
The Hakim Abdul Hamid Centenary Hospital, where 110 patients are admitted, sounded an alarm about depleting oxygen supplies around 2 pm.
"The city government is responsible for this situation. The supplies have become erratic ever since the government has taken over," Dr Sunil Kohli, the head of the department of medicine, said.
A tanker carrying oxygen reached the facility around 6 pm. Dr Deepali Gupta from Triton Hospital in Kalkaji said they have been struggling to arrange oxygen for their neonatal intensive care unit.
"We have been scrambling for oxygen for over a week. A major tragedy may occur if a continuous supply is not ensured soon," she said.
An official of MD City Hospital in Model Town said lives of 140 patients were in danger due to an irregular supply of oxygen. Around 4:30 pm, the hospital said it had exhausted its liquid medical oxygen stock and was using the backup. There has been no update on the situation so far.
Meanwhile, the BLK-Max Super Speciality Hospital announced the installation of an "oxygen generator and a high-pressure cylinder filling system which will provide around 15 per cent additional back-up to the existing medical oxygen demand at the hospital in the form of a continuous feed".
On Saturday, 12 COVID-19 patients, including a senior doctor, had died at south Delhi's Batra Hospital after the facility ran out of medical oxygen for around 80 minutes in the afternoon.
The tragic incident occurred in less than two weeks of 20 coronavirus patients dying at Jaipur Golden Hospital and 25 at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital amid the oxygen crisis in the national capital.
Several hospitals in Delhi continue to grapple with a shortage of oxygen, as coronavirus cases continue to spike every passing day.
The Delhi government has been demanding 976 metric tonnes of oxygen from the Centre against the existing allotted 490 MT quota.
On Friday, the city administration received just 312 MT, an official said.
According to official data, Delhi had got 305 MT of oxygen on April 25, followed by 408 MT on April 26, 398 MT on April 27, 431 MT on April 28 and 409 MT on April 29.
Delhi on Sunday recorded 407 COVID-19 deaths and over 20,000 cases with a positivity rate of 28.33 per cent, according to the latest health bulletin.