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Tuesday, May 11, 2021

‘I am so angry that I am numb’: Families of Covid patients scramble for oxygen in Delhi

With the oxygen crisis deepening in Delhi, many families of Covid positive patients have been struggling to find sources for regular supply.

Written by Anand Mohan J | New Delhi |
Updated: April 22, 2021 2:11:02 pm
People enquire about availability of cylinders of medical oxygen, required for treatment of critical COVID-19 patients, as coronavirus cases surge across the country, in New Delhi, Wednesday, April 21, 2021. (PTI Photo)

Abdul has been hallucinating ever since his oxygen levels dipped last night. The 82-year-old sometimes thinks he is talking to his dead wife and at other times remembers friends from a bygone era.

It has been three days since Abdul tested positive for Covid-19. His family at Gokulpuri have been running from pillar to post in search of an oxygenated bed or even an oxygen cylinder.

“His oxygen levels have been low since yesterday. He is sinking. We have been circling around Delhi looking for oxygen. Today morning we got an ambulance ride where they supplied us with 30 minutes of oxygen… His time is running out,” says Abdul’s son Furkan.

With the oxygen crisis deepening in Delhi, many families of Covid positive patients have been struggling to find sources for regular supply.

They spend most of their time looking for oxygen in the unlikeliest of places, knocking on the doors of medical supply stores in industrial areas. They sometimes manage to get an address of a private oxygen cylinder supplier but only to find the stock has run out.

Mahesh, 47, has driven to 25 such addresses throughout Delhi. He was stopped at five curfew checkpoints where he told the police that he was looking for an oxygen cylinder and was let go after he pleaded with them.

He reached an oxygen cylinder supplier at Sant Nagar at East of Kailash and stood outside his gate with folded hands and said: “You are my only hope. My mother is going to die. I just need one cylinder.”

The owner of the store replied, “I don’t have anything. No oxygen cylinders, no concentrators.” Mahesh left the place in tears. “I am so angry that I am numb. I just want this to end.”

Most oxygen cylinder and concentrator suppliers say they have run out of supplies in the past three days and are unable to restock due to supply chain disruptions caused by the pandemic.

Dr Ubaid Hamid Rangrez, vice president (operations) and unit head at Vimhans Nayati Superspecialty Hospital, had been waiting for more than 60 oxygen cylinders since Thursday morning at a local oxygen cylinder supplier in South Delhi.

A truck from the hospital was the first to enter the facility on Wednesday. After several calls to the local police, Dr Hamid received an overwhelming response from the local beat cops as they managed to get him 31 cylinders of 30-litre capacity and 36 of 10-litre capacity. “There was complete chaos outside the facility. People were just coming and picking up cylinders. They kept delaying the delivery of cylinders over one excuse or another. Finally thanks to the police I got the cylinders for my hospital.”

SC Sikka, 81, was found Covid positive around three days ago along with five members of his family. They are all forced to share the single oxygen cylinder among themselves. Three of his Covid positive relatives took him to BL Kapoor Hospital in the hope of finding an ICU bed.

“We have been looking for an oxygen cylinder for the past six days. It has been tough. We have kept one cylinder at home for an emergency. I just want my father to be admitted so that he may be saved,” said his son.

Two days ago, 38-year-old Afroz raced towards Delhi in his Scorpio car with an oxygen cylinder. His relative, 55-year-old Afroz Khan, who till recently was busy building his home, came down with a severe case of Covid and his oxygen levels dipped to dangerous levels.

“He is admitted at DDU Hospital right now. After so much effort he finally got the oxygen but his health has not improved. If he would have got oxygen at the time I was racing to Delhi he would have been better. Tell me who is at fault?” said Khan.

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