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Oxygen demand outstrips supply in India hotspots


Nepalnews
2021 Apr 25, 11:05, NEW DELHI
India’s medical oxygen shortage has become so dire that a Sikh house of worship began offering free breathing sessions with shared tanks to COVID-19 patients. (Photo via AP)

India’s medical oxygen shortage has become so dire that a Sikh house of worship began offering free breathing sessions with shared tanks to COVID-19 patients waiting for a hospital bed.

They arrive in their cars, on foot or in three-wheeled taxis, desperate for a mask and tube attached to the precious oxygen tanks outside the gurdwara in a neighbourhood outside the capital, New Delhi.


A patient breathes with the help of oxygen provided by a Gurdwara, a Sikh house of worship, that began offering free breathing sessions with shared tanks to COVID-19 patients waiting for a hospital bed in New Delhi, India, Saturday, April 24, 2021. (Photo via AP)
A patient breathes with the help of oxygen provided by a Gurdwara, a Sikh house of worship, that began offering free breathing sessions with shared tanks to COVID-19 patients waiting for a hospital bed in New Delhi, India, Saturday, April 24, 2021. (Photo via AP)

After having largely tamed the virus last year, India is in the throes of the world’s worst coronavirus surge and many of the country’s hospitals are struggling to cope with shortages of beds, medicines and oxygen.

The gurdwara management has promised to provide free oxygen to patients until they can be admitted to a hospital. Teams of volunteers check oxygen levels of newly arrived patients and provide what they need.

The gurdwara started the initiative Thursday evening, and by Friday evening had seen over 700 patients come through, reported The Hindu newspaper.

People wait to load a medical oxygen cylinder at a charging station on the outskirts of Prayagraj, India, Friday, April 23, 2021. (Photo via AP)
People wait to load a medical oxygen cylinder at a charging station on the outskirts of Prayagraj, India, Friday, April 23, 2021. (Photo via AP)

Most hospitals in India aren’t equipped with independent plants that generate oxygen directly for patients, primarily because they require an uninterrupted power supply, which is a rarity in many states.

As a result, hospitals typically rely on liquid oxygen, which can be stored in cylinders and transported in cryogenic tankers. But amid the surge, supplies in hard-hit places like New Delhi are running critically short.

Last year, India kept its hospitals sufficiently stocked by diverting oxygen from industries that were shuttered by one of the world’s strictest virus lockdowns. As Indians were cooped up indoors for months, industrial tanks were repurposed for medical use. Tanker trucks raced over empty highways to transport oxygen across the vast country to hotspots.

But with the current wave, blamed on a highly contagious variant that has spread quickly and widely without the limiting benefit of a nationwide lockdown, the situation is different.

Ambulances carrying COVID-19 patients line up waiting for their turn to be attended to at a dedicated COVID-19 government hospital in Ahmedabad, India, Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Photo via AP)
Ambulances carrying COVID-19 patients line up waiting for their turn to be attended to at a dedicated COVID-19 government hospital in Ahmedabad, India, Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Photo via AP)

Scores have died in hospitals in India’s capital amid suggestions that low oxygen supplies were to blame. Doctors have taken to social media to beg public authorities to get them resupplied, and the government has mobilised to bring oxygen supplies by train, plane and truck.

The demand for oxygen from hospitals has nearly tripled to 8,000 metric tonnes (8,800 tons), the federal government told the Delhi High Court last week. India’s total production was 7,500 metric tonnes of oxygen per day.

Most of India’s oxygen production capacity is centred around industries, many of which are concentrated in India’s eastern states. The current surge in infections is in the northern and western states.

Saket Tiku, president of the All India Industrial Gases Manufacturers Association, said the biggest challenge has been transporting oxygen to where it’s urgently needed.

A worker refills medical oxygen cylinders at a charging station on the outskirts of Prayagraj, India, Friday, April 23, 2021. (Photo via AP)
A worker refills medical oxygen cylinders at a charging station on the outskirts of Prayagraj, India, Friday, April 23, 2021. (Photo via AP)
Volunteers from a Gurdwara, a Sikh place of worship, prepare oxygen cylinders for patients in New Delhi, India, Saturday, April 24, 2021. (Photo via AP)
Volunteers from a Gurdwara, a Sikh place of worship, prepare oxygen cylinders for patients in New Delhi, India, Saturday, April 24, 2021. (Photo via AP)
People stand in a queue to refill oxygen in cylinders in New Delhi, India, Friday, April 23, 2021. (Photo via AP)
People stand in a queue to refill oxygen in cylinders in New Delhi, India, Friday, April 23, 2021. (Photo via AP)
A COVID-19 patient breathes with the help of an oxygen mask and waits inside an auto rickshaw to be attended to and admitted to a dedicated COVID-19 government hospital in Ahmedabad, India, Saturday, April 17, 2021. (Photo via AP)
A COVID-19 patient breathes with the help of an oxygen mask and waits inside an auto rickshaw to be attended to and admitted to a dedicated COVID-19 government hospital in Ahmedabad, India, Saturday, April 17, 2021. (Photo via AP)
A COVID-19 patient receives oxygen inside a car provided by a Gurdwara, a Sikh house of worship, that began offering free breathing sessions with shared tanks to COVID-19 patients waiting for a hospital bed in New Delhi, India, Saturday, April 24, 2021. (Photo via AP)
A COVID-19 patient receives oxygen inside a car provided by a Gurdwara, a Sikh house of worship, that began offering free breathing sessions with shared tanks to COVID-19 patients waiting for a hospital bed in New Delhi, India, Saturday, April 24, 2021. (Photo via AP)
A COVID-19 patient breathes with the help of an oxygen mask as he waits inside an auto rickshaw to be attended to and admitted in a dedicated COVID-19 government hospital in Ahmedabad, India, Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Photo via AP)
A COVID-19 patient breathes with the help of an oxygen mask as he waits inside an auto rickshaw to be attended to and admitted in a dedicated COVID-19 government hospital in Ahmedabad, India, Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Photo via AP)
A COVID-19 patient receives oxygen provided by a Gurdwara, a Sikh house of worship, that began offering free breathing sessions with shared tanks to COVID-19 patients waiting for a hospital bed in New Delhi, India, Saturday, April 24, 2021. (Photo via AP)
A COVID-19 patient receives oxygen provided by a Gurdwara, a Sikh house of worship, that began offering free breathing sessions with shared tanks to COVID-19 patients waiting for a hospital bed in New Delhi, India, Saturday, April 24, 2021. (Photo via AP)
Workers load oxygen cylinders at a charging station on the outskirts of Prayagraj, India, Friday, April 23, 2021. (Photo via AP)
Workers load oxygen cylinders at a charging station on the outskirts of Prayagraj, India, Friday, April 23, 2021. (Photo via AP)
Oxygen demand supply india hotspot medical Sikh covid-19 hospital New Delhi gurdwara power supply cylinder cryogenic tanker coronavirus lockdown All India Industrial Gases Manufacturers Association
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