Private oxygen suppliers struggle to keep up

Private oxygen suppliers and NGOs volunteering to provide oxygen to seriously ill COVID-19 patients in the city are running from pillar to post to fulfil the demand over the last three to four days but to no avail.

While some who mainly deal in supplying oxygen for industrial purposes have switched over completely to dealing in medical oxygen, the cost of a 10-litre cylinder of oxygen had, they claimed, shot up three times in as many days since the Delhi government’s admission that oxygen supplies were running low at city hospitals.

“Patients are coming to us in visible desperation, folding their hands and requesting whatever amount of supply we can provide because they are somehow managing to get hospital beds but not oxygen,” said Pramila Juneja (name changed on request), from Patel Nagar, who runs an industrial oxygen supply business with her husband.

“We are trying our best to help as many patients as possible and have switched completely to supplying medical oxygen from industrial oxygen. Things have gone from worse to worst over the last three to four days,” she said.

Distress calls

Mohammad Umair, a businessman who volunteers for the NGO ‘Youth for Nizamuddin’ in south east Delhi, said distress calls for food and water during last year’s lockdown to contain the COVID-19 pandemic had been replaced by distress calls for oxygen this time around.

“Four days ago, I got a 10-litre oxygen tank, which can last around five to six hours for one patient, filled for ₹6,000. But the very next day, after issues about oxygen supply were raised by the Delhi government the same tank now costs ₹16,000,” Mr. Umair said. “We are managing small supplies from U.P. but no matter how much we get it is not adequate due to the current panic around the supply of oxygen,” he complained.

Dheeraj Kumar, an oxygen supplier based in north-west Delhi’s Rohini said the panic around oxygen supply had set in all of a sudden after the weekend.

“All I can say is that I have received 450 calls which started around 5 a.m. today. This was not the case two days ago, but has happened since last night,” he said. “I am trying my best to be able to help anyone and have missed three calls while talking to you. The demand has suddenly shot up but the supply has not kept pace,” he said.

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Printable version | May 17, 2021 10:56:58 PM |

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