Twelve patients at Delhi's Batra Hospital, including a senior doctor, died on Saturday and at least two other hospitals reported precipitous drops in their oxygen stocks, as the Delhi high court stepped in and directed the Centre to provide the city with oxygen today itself or face contempt.
With the death of the 12 patients in the south Delhi hospital -- which announced at 12.30 pm that it had run out of oxygen -- the number of hospital patients who have lost their lives in the deepening crisis in the last eight days has gone up to 57.
Batra first reported the deaths of eight, and revised the toll to 12 by evening.
“We are trying to resuscitate five other critical patients,” Dr S C L Gupta, medical director of Batra hospital, said earlier in the day.
Six of the patients who died were admitted to the ICU, he said. Among those who died due to the lack of oxygen were Dr R K Himthani, head of the gastroenterology department who had been admitted to the hospital for the last 15-20 days.
He said the government had sent out SOS messages about oxygen shortage on Saturday. The hospital had informed authorities about lack of oxygen in the morning when only 2,500 litres left.
Then, at around 12.30 pm, hospital authorities claimed they had run out of oxygen. The tanker arrived at 1.35 pm.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal expressed his anguish on Twitter.
Describing the news as very painful, he said, "Their lives could have been saved -- by giving them oxygen on time. Delhi should get its quota of oxygen. Can''t see our people dying like this.”
Delhi, he said in his Twitter post in Hindi, needs 976 tonnes of oxygen but received only 312 tonnes on Friday. “How will Delhi breathe in such less oxygen?" he asked following news of the deaths in Batra.
On April 23, 25 ‘sickest’ patients died at the Ganga Ram hospital. The next day, 20 died at Jaipur Golden Hospital as the frantic hunt for oxygen continued while COVID-19 cases surged.
Just over a week later, the crisis played out in other healthcare facilities in the national capital with hospitals flagging their dwindling stocks.
Fortis Hospital in Vasant Kunj stopped taking admissions due to oxygen shortage. The hospital has four hours of oxygen left, sources told PTI on Saturday afternoon. According to the Delhi Corona app, the hospital has 106 Covid patients.
Sehgal Neo hospital in Meera Bagh also sent out an SOS message on Twitter about its dwindling oxygen stocks.
"We request urgent assistance in getting #SOSoxygen. We are running out of our backup supply, and have been waiting for a supply since early morning. We have 90 patients on O2 & 13 in ICU," the hospital said in a tweet around 12.40 pm.
On Friday, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said not for a single day has Delhi been able to receive the allocated quantity of 490 MT of oxygen.
On Friday, the city recorded 375 deaths due to COVID-19 and 27,047 fresh cases with a positivity rate of 32.69 per cent. It was the ninth consecutive day of Delhi recording 300 coronavirus-related deaths.