Alarm bells ringing in State over impending oxygen shortage

Corporate hospitals had been advised to set up liquid oxygen tank on their premises, but very few have complied.   | Photo Credit: NAGARA GOPAL

Private hospital doctors, oxygen distributors and members of voluntary organisations have sounded caution over an impending medical oxygen shortage in the State. If cases were to further increase and more liquid oxygen is not supplied, they said it could lead to a huge shortage of the crucial resource in the coming days.

Private hospital doctors said at least two small-scale hospitals, which ran out of medical oxygen, asked COVID-19 patients to be shifted to other medical facilities. “There were around 100 patients put together,” said a doctor.

However, Health department officials maintain that there is no dearth of oxygen in government hospitals.

An oxygen distributor said they used to supply around 30 cylinders of 7.1 cubic meter capacity a day to hospitals prior to the second wave of the pandemic. “Now, we are supplying 80-90 cylinders a day. We get oxygen from filling stations and they too are running short of it. If more of it is not supplied to the State, there could be a big problem. We did not expect such huge demand for medical oxygen,” said the distributor on the condition of anonymity.

Trustee of Helping Hand Foundation, Mujtaba Askari said they have around 150 cylinders and are finding it hard to refill those. “Our staff went to a distributor on Sunday noon with a truckload of cylinders. By the time our turn came at around 8 p.m., we were told that there is no more oxygen. On Monday, we had to get the cylinders filled at multiple stations,” Mr Askari said.

Requests pouring in

He added that they are getting at least 100 calls a day from people requesting oxygen cylinders. “A majority of them are in home isolation. We counselled and asked them to get admitted to government hospitals. But some among the callers were family members of patients. Private hospitals have asked them to arrange for oxygen on their own. If there were to be more severe cases, oxygen shortage will increase,” he said.

There is every possibility of a rise in severe cases as senior officials of the Health department have warned.

Sources in the Health department said that they have requested the Centre to increase the supply from current 250 tonnes to 400 tonnes per day. “Out State is attached to get liquid oxygen from Bellary (Karnataka), one place in Odisha and another place. In case of corporate hospitals, their method of relying on oxygen cylinders will not serve the purpose. Last year, they were asked to install liquid oxygen tank so that there is no dearth of it. But only three to four of them have installed it,” sources said.

Kiran Madhala, the head of Critical Care at Government Medical College in Nizamabad, said that according to World Health Organisation, medical help is needed when oxygen saturation levels fall below 94. “Taking oxygen at home is not suggested as doctors consider a lot of factors before deciding whether and how much oxygen is needed. However, people in home isolation have to monitor their oxygen saturation levels regularly. In Happy Hypoxia stage, people would look normal, face no discomfort but the saturation levels go down,” Dr Kiran said.

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Printable version | May 12, 2021 4:20:56 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/alarm-bells-ringing-in-state-over-impending-oxygen-shortage/article34362063.ece

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