India World

‘It’s not a wave, It’s a tsunami’: Indian hospitals struggle to keep patients alive amid oxygen shortage

Patients are dying at India’s hospitals because of shortage of oxygen as Covid infections and deaths hit daily new records.

Over the past four days India recorded nearly a million and a half infections.

At the Jaipur Golden Hospital in Delhi, 20 people died overnight because of a lack of oxygen, an official said.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said the situation in India was a “devastating reminder” of what the coronavirus could do.

Earlier this year, the Indian government believed it had beaten the virus. New cases fell to 11,000 by mid-February, vaccines were being exported, and in March the health minister said India was “in the endgame” of the pandemic.

However, since then, a new surge has erupted, driven by the emergence of new variants, as well as mass gatherings, such as the Kumbh Mela festival, where millions of pilgrims gathered earlier this month.

On Friday, Delhi’s Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal pleaded for oxygen supplies on live TV.

“All of the country’s oxygen plants should immediately be taken over by the government through the army,” he said.

Private hospitals such as Max Healthcare and Fortis Healthcare – that run a network of hospitals in north India – took to twitter to make SOS calls.

Several hospitals in Delhi have gone to the city’s high court seeking it to order the state and federal governments to make emergency arrangements for medical supplies, mainly oxygen.

“It’s a tsunami. How are we trying to build capacity?” the Delhi high court asked the state and federal governments in response to this plea.

The court asked the government to ensure supplies, as well to make security arrangements for medical centres amid people’s desperation.

“We know how people react, let’s not have a law and order situation,” the court said in its direction to the authorities.