Twelve people, including a doctor, died at Delhi’s Batra Hospital on Saturday after the facility ran out of medical oxygen. The facility ran out of medical oxygen for the second time in the space of a week – at 11.45 am.
According to reports, the hospital’s Executive Director, Dr Sudhanshu Bankata, said the next 24 hours would be “critical” and that more deaths due to oxygen shortage could not be ruled out.
Dr. Bankata told a news a national news channel, “These are patients whose oxygen levels sank when supply was low… it is hard to revive such patients. The next 24-48 are hours critical and death toll could be higher.”
“220 patients are currently on oxygen support,” he added.
The doctor who died in the incident has been identified as Dr RK Himthani, the head of Batra’s gastroenterology unit. While out of 12 people six of them have been admitted to the hospital’s ICU (intensive care unit).
Holding an 11th day of hearings in Delhi Court, the hospital earlier told that 230 people were left without oxygen for 80 minutes into a crisis triggered by a massive wave of Covid infections.
The hospital further said, “We ran out of oxygen at 11.45 am. Supply came at 1.30 pm (a second tanker reached at around 4 pm). We were out of oxygen for 1 hour and 20 mins.”
“We hope no lives were lost,” the court responded, to which the hospital said: “We have… including one of our own… one doctor.”
This is the second time in a week that Batra Hospital has run out of medical oxygen. Earlier on April 24 the hospital received a last-minute re-supply that arrived minutes after its oxygen reserves ran out.
On being told of the deaths the Delhi High Court slammed the centre: “We mean business… you will arrange everything now. Eight people have died… will we shut our eyes to people dying in Delhi?”
“We direct the center to ensure Delhi receives its 490 metric tonnes (of medical oxygen) today by whatever means. It falls on the center to arrange tankers as well. The allocation was made on April 20 and not even one day Delhi has received its allocated supply,” the court said.
Last week 25 people at the Jaipur Golden Hospital died due to a shortage of medical oxygen. Batra is among several hospitals in the city fighting this incapacitating oxygen scarcity.
However, the capital recorded between 24,000 and 28,000 fresh coronavirus cases per day over the past two weeks. While the government said, the city’s quota of oxygen had been increased to 490 metric tonnes per day that is against an estimated demand of around 700 MT, but supply is only around 400 MT.
The increasing covid-19 cases in the country have left hospitals overworked, doctors traumatized, and resources like beds, medicines, and oxygen in perilously short supply.
The scale of the crisis has prompted the global community to step in, with oxygen concentrators, tankers, and other equipment being flown in by the United States, the United Kingdom, Singapore, the European Union, and other countries.