25 COVID-19 patients dead, dwinding oxygen supplies and threat of death penalty - What's happening in Delhi?

A day after 25 of the 'sickest' patients at Delhi's Sir Ganga Ram Hospital passed away within 24 hours, the Jaipur Golden Hospital in Delhi sounded a frantic SOS, contending that they had enough oxygen to last a mere half hour. Around 20 people, they said, had already died on Friday night, purportedly due to a shortage of medical oxygen. The hospital's medical director explained that they had around 200 patients at present, of which 80% were on oxygen support.

For the moment, a fresh crisis appears to have been averted. At around 1 pm, news agency ANI shared photos of an oxygen tanker entering through the gate at Jaipur Golden Hospital. But the situation is not new. Over the last few days, numerous hospitals in the national capital have tottered on the brink of disaster, running low on oxygen, equipment and emergency drugs. On Friday morning for example, the Medical Director of Delhi's Sir Ganga Ram Hospital put out a distress signal seeking oxygen, informing that 25 of the sickest COVID-19 patients had died within the last 24 hours. Elsewhere in the city, hospitals have now stopped admitting new patients citing the lack of oxygen.

But as Opposition leaders hit out at the government and social media is flooded with pleas for help, there is no clear solution that has surfaced thus far. In case of Jaipur Golden Hospital for example, director DK Baluja contends that the alloted supply reached around midnight, as opposed to 5 in the evening. "By then, 25 patients had died," he told NDTV.

Over the last few days, several hospitals have approached the High Court seeking help. And on Satuday, the Delhi HC underscored the gravity of the situation with an assurance that they would hang any individual who obstructed the picking up or supply of oxygen. The court told the Delhi government to inform the Centre also about such officials of the local administration so that it could take action against them. "We will not spare anyone," the bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli added while hearing the plea filed by Maharaja Agrasen Hospital.

As the fight to procure oxygen continues, Opposition leaders have laid the blame squarely with the central administration.

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