SHORTAGE OF OXYGEN CYLINDERS | During Covid-19
Covid-19 is on peak again and the patients are going out of breath. The country’s single-day record on Wednesday that due to shortage of oxygen cylinders reached approx. 3 lakh cases and as hospitals run perilously low on oxygen and beds. India’s overall case tally is now at 15.6 million, second only to the United States which has over 31 million infections.
While people are fighting every day for their lives, compromise, and adjusting themselves every minute, the country is going out of oxygen cylinders. In the last few weeks, many covid-19 patients have died, due to the unavailability of oxygen cylinders in hospitals situated in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Maharastra, Gujarat, and Madhya Pradesh. Hospitals are overcrowded and there is a severe death due to a shortage of oxygen cylinders.
On Tuesday evening, urging citizens to stay indoors and not panic amid India’s worst health emergency in memory, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said India faced a coronavirus “storm” overwhelming its healthcare system.“The situation was manageable until a few weeks ago. The second wave of infections has come like a storm,”
Now India’s two largest cities have imposed strict lockdowns, Many have already left big cities, fearing a repeat of last year, when an abrupt lockdown forced many migrant workers to walk to their home villages or risk starvation.
People are blaming the government for its huge failure not be able to complete this oxygen demand. A flurry of SOS messages on Twitter and other social media platforms shows the severity of the oxygen shortage in these states. Meanwhile, opposition party leaders and affected citizens have slammed the Centre and state governments for the shortage of medical oxygen, which is necessary for hospitals to keep critical Covid patients alive.
But our oxygen production is currently at 7,000 metric tons, which is higher than the daily oxygen requirement, then why there is still a shortage. According to oxygen export data from the Department of Commerce showed that the country exported twice as much oxygen to the world during the first 10 months.
The demand for oxygen in India was not as high, but during the first wave, the demand for liquid medical oxygen increased from 700 metric tonnes per day (MTPD) to 2,800 MTPD. But during the second wave, it has reached to 5,000 MTPD.
According to the government one of the reasons for this shortage is an uneven distribution of cylinder supply, and to control this situation the government has announced a ban on the sale of oxygen to most industries and warned against oxygen wastage and unnecessary use.
Looting oxygen tankers!!
Haryana health minister Anil Vij said “This is the worst one could expect from the Delhi government, they should have asked us. If we can treat their patients, we would not mind sharing oxygen as well”
As high oxygen shortage hits the fight to save lives as covid 19 cases continue to rise across the country, many states have begun providing police protection to the vehicle carrying oxygen cylinders and tankers because incidents and alligations of oxygen cylinders and tankers being looted.
On Wednesday, the Delhi government was accused by Haryana health minister Anil Vij of “looting their oxygen tanker that was passing through New Delhi” on Tuesday morning. As the tanker was passing through New Delhi, a team of policemen and officers allegedly stopped it and forcibly filled oxygen cylinders from the oxygen tanker.
Meanwhile, Shahid Malik, who works at a small supplier of oxygen in Delhi, said that the demand for medical oxygen had increased by a factor of 10. His phone has been ringing continuously for two days. By Monday, the shop still had oxygen but no cylinders.
He answered each call with the same message: “If you have your own cylinder, come pick up the oxygen. If you don’t, we can’t help you.”
When new infections started dipping in September, the government thought the worst of the pandemic was over.
Bhramar Mukherjee, a biostatistician at the University of Michigan who has been tracking India’s pandemic, said India failed to learn from surges elsewhere and take anticipatory measures.
Mukherjee was among those who had urged authorities to take advantage of low cases earlier in the year to speed up vaccinations.
Instead, officials dithered in limiting huge gatherings during Hindu festivals and refused to delay ongoing elections in the eastern West Bengal state, where experts fear that large, unmasked crowds at rallies will fuel the spread of the virus.
Modi is facing hate that his administration drops its guard when coronavirus infections fell low in February and allowed religious festivals and political rallies, some of which he permitted to go ahead.
Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan has said that one of the major reasons for the spike in coronavirus cases was people not following COVID-appropriate behavior.
The sharp rise in cases could be mainly attributed to the severe decline in compliance of COVID-appropriate behavior, especially in the use of masks and social distancing, on the other hand, there was a lack of effective implementation of containment measures at the field level.
At full capacity, India’s daily oxygen production far outpaces supply. At the current rate, daily medical oxygen consumption is only 54% of production capacity in April (industrial oxygen is converted into medical-grade by purifying it to more than 93%). Covid-19 patients who require urgent oxygen support are unable to get it due to a shortage of cylinders and tankers.
The shortage of such tankers has led to a significant delay in inter-state transportation of oxygen from manufacturers to hospitals. It may be noted that medical facilities and healthcare centers located in remote areas face a bigger crisis due to longer transportation times.
It is worth mentioning that states that have seen the sharpest surge of Covid-19 cases are primarily facing an oxygen crisis. Maharashtra is one such state as it requires more medical oxygen than what it produces at the moment.
Meanwhile, Madhya Pradesh does not even have oxygen manufacturing plants and is relying on other states for oxygen supply.