From last minute oxygen delivery to halt on new hospital entry: Mayhem in Delhi as COVID-19 cases surge

Over the last few weeks, as COVID-19 cases in India surged, Delhi has emerged as the single worst affected city in India. As per Health Ministry data on Friday morning there are more than 91 thousand active cases in the national capital. Over the last few days, Delhi has repeatedly made headlines as hospitals run out of oxygen, essential drugs and more.

On Friday morning, the Medical Director of Delhi's Sir Ganga Ram Hospital put out a distress signal, informing that 25 of the sickest COVID-19 patients had died within the last 24 hours. "Oxygen will last another 2 hours. Ventilators and Bipap not working effectively. Need Oxygen to be airlifted urgently. Lives of another 60 sickest patients in peril," he was quoted as saying.

And while disaster appears to have been averted in the nick of time, it was a rather close shave for the hospital. Approximately an hour after the Director's warning made headlines, news agency ANI shared visuals of oxygen being delivered to Sir Ganga Ram Hospital.

"We've liquid medical oxygen that will last one hour and the backup oxygen supply that will last two hours. We are waiting for Linde to come and fill the oxygen tanks," ANI quoted Dr. Sumit Ray of Delhi's Holy Family Hospital as saying.

A similar distress signal had been sent out by Delhi's Max hospital chain. While they had since received oxygen, this is not expected to last more than a few hours. Further delivers are being made. As per reports, Max Hospital has said that they would not be admitting new patients in all their hospitals across the Delhi-NCR region "till oxygen supplies stabilise".

But even at hospitals taking in new COVID-19 patients, the process has become increasingly more complicated. With new variants holding sway, hospitals are now turning away even symptomatic patients who do not have the relevant lab reports. As an NDTV report notes, evidence of lung infection may be indicative of COVID-19, but it was no longer enough to admit new patients.

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