COVID-19 in Delhi: Amid surge in cases, CM Arvind Kejriwal extends lockdown

New Delhi: Back to the wall, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday announced extension of the ongoing lockdown in Delhi for another week, saying the severity of COVID-19 persists and the positivity rate has been as high as 36 per cent in the last few days.

To keep a watch on oxygen availability, the Delhi government has decided that the manufacturers, suppliers and hospitals will update supply and consumption data every two hours on a portal set up by it.

There was some relief for the hospitals on the oxygen front: After an all-night scramble for refill, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital received five metric tonnes of the life-saving gas in the early hours of Sunday.

The hospital had raised an alarm at 10:30 pm on Saturday, saying its oxygen stock would last only an hour. There were 130 patients in the ICU, including 30 on invasive ventilation, when the SOS was sent.

The tanker finally arrived at 4:15 am and delivered 5 metric tonnes of medical oxygen, the highest volume that the hospital has received in the last three days in one refill, he said. "It should last for 11-12 hours," the spokesperson said.

At least two private hospitals in Delhi -- Saroj Super Speciality Hospital in Rohini and Batra Hospital in Tughlakabad Institutional Area – have asked families of patients to shift them to other healthcare facilities in view of the oxygen shortage.

With hospitals continuing to raise alarm, Fortis Escorts Heart Institute said it would not admit new patients. Tweeting a picture of a notice placed outside the hospital, Cardiologist Nishith Chandra said, "Things are very grim. This is the situation at Fortis, one of the most premier cardiac hospitals of India."

Around 100 patients are on Oxygen support at Fortis Escorts Heart Institute.

Incidentally, the first Oxygen Express train for Delhi carrying around 70 tonnes of the life-saving gas will depart from Jindal Steel Works plant in Raigarh, Chhattisgarh, on Sunday night, a senior official said.

Chief Minister Kejriwal on Sunday issued his second SOS in as many days, appeaing to industrialists to "please do whatever you can to support us".

The letter has reportedly been sent to the Tatas, the Birlas, the Ambanis, the Hindujas and the Mahendras, apart from a number of other prominent business families, all of whom have been asked for help in increasing the supply of medical oxygen to the national capital. "If you have oxygen and a tanker, then please help the Delhi government," he wrote.

Voices

"My brother has been admitted for 10 days. He has been in the ICU for the last three days. We have been arranging for oxygen on our own and paying thousands. The hospital says it is unable to get it. Governments should have arranged this, but I need to save my brother's life, so I will do whatever it takes,’’ -- Mohammad Akhlaq, whose brother Imtiaz is in the ICU, to NDTV.

Rajat Ahluwalia, 38, was bruised and exhausted after standing in a kilometre-long queue in Delhi on Sunday, finally managing to secure a 10-litre oxygen cylinder for his ailing 65-year-old father, reports NDTV

"Poora 10 litre ka cylinder hai. Mera kandha chchil gaya hai jahan jahan se bharwa ke laaya hu kilometre lambi line me lagne ke baad. Tab jaake mujhe Oxygen mili hai (I managed to get a 10-litre cylinder but scraped my shoulders while bringing it...after standing in kilometre-long queues,’’ Ahluwalia told the channel.

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