26 Die of oxygen shortage in Delhi and Punjab hospitals.
West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh reported their highest single-day spike in cases for the third consecutive day on Saturday
At least two hospitals reported deaths of COVID-19 patients due to the lack of medical oxygen while the hospital admins waited for their stock of oxygen to be replenished.
The casualties reportedly included 20 in Jaipur Golden Hospital in Delhi and six Neelkant hospitals in Punjab
“Oxygen pressure has dipped as we are running out of stock,” Jaipur Golden Hospital’s medical director DK Baluja was quoted as saying by PTI, as news surfaced of patients dying in the intervening night.
The deaths of six patients at the Neelkant Hospital in Amritsar prompted Punjab authorities to order a probe into the incident.
“Despite the district administration being repeatedly asked to extend help, no one turned up to do the needful,” Sunil Devgan, the chairman and managing director of Neelkant hospital where the deaths occurred, claimed as per PTI.
However, Punjab Medical Education Minister OP Soni refuted the charge and claimed that no proper information was given by the hospital about any shortage of oxygen.
On day five of the oxygen crisis, hospitals across the National Capital Region and other states sent out desperate messages for help on social media and other platforms every few hours, flagging their dwindling stocks of oxygen while Centre and state governments scrambled to mitigate the fallout from the severe shortage of crucial resource.
In the National Capital, the situation was taken up by the Delhi High Court for the third consecutive day. On Saturday, the court questioned the Centre about its preparedness to deal with the expected peak of the second wave of COVID-19 in May and termed the current exponential rise in cases as a “tsunami”.
Taking a tough stance, the Bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli said that it will “hang” any person who tries to obstruct oxygen supplies to hospitals in Delhi.
“We will not spare anyone,” said the court during a special three-hour-long holiday hearing on the issue of the escalating oxygen crisis in various hospitals in the National Capital.
Amidst this, the ‘Oxygen Express’ arrived in Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra to deliver three and four tankers, respectively, on Saturday.
The Union government also announced an exemption of basic customs duty on the import of medical-grade oxygen and related equipment, and on the import of COVID-19 vaccines.
On the front of the number, a record single-day rise of 3,46,786 coronavirus cases pushed India’s total tally to 1,66,10,481, while active cases crossed the 25 lakh, according to the health ministry’s data updated at 8 am on Saturday. A total of 2,624 new deaths were also recorded.
West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh reported their highest single-day spike in cases for the third consecutive day on Saturday. Bengal, in the midst of an eight-phased Assembly election, 14,281 COVID-19 cases took the tally to 7,28,061.
Uttar Pradesh recorded 38,055 new cases and 223 deaths, pushing the virus tally to 10,51,314 and the toll to 10,959, according to an official statement. Maharashtra, which has been the worst hit by the virus, Saturday reported 67,160 new coronavirus cases, slightly more than Friday, but its toll from the virus declined to 676.
Bharat Biotech announces vaccine costs; SII defends pricing
After SII, Bharat Biotech announced the price of its COVID-19 vaccine for states and private hospitals. The Hyderabad-based company said that it would sell the vaccine at Rs 1,200 per dose to private hospitals and Rs 600 per dose to state governments.
The company, however, will continue to supply vaccines at Rs 150 per dose to the Central Government, and that more than 50 percent of its capacities have been reserved for Central Government”.
Meanwhile, the Serum Institute of India (SII), which makes the most-used COVID-19 vaccine in the country, defended its decision to price the Covishield vaccine at 1.5 times the initial rate, saying the earlier price was based on advance funding and now it has to invest in scaling up and expanding capacity to produce more shots.
The opposition parties had criticized the differential pricing for COVID-19 vaccines, saying it was discriminatory and will benefit only a “few big industrialists” while common people will suffer.
They had demanded the Centre and state governments pay the same price for the COVID-19 vaccine.
In response, SII clarified that there was an “inaccurate comparison” done between the global prices of the vaccine with India.
“Covishield is the most affordable COVID-19 vaccine available in the market today,” SII said. The initial prices were kept very low globally as these were based on advance funding given by those countries for at-risk vaccine manufacturing, it added.
‘Please help’: Delhi hospitals send SOS
Amid the unprecedented crisis, some “helpless” hospitals in Delhi advised relatives to shift their patients to another facility, while several others have been left with no option but to use their backup stock.
Making an urgent plea for oxygen supply, Narin Sehgal, the director of the Sehgal Neo Hospital in Delhi, said he was “absolutely helpless” and that the lives of 120 COVID-19 patients were at stake due to a severe oxygen shortage.
“Sixty COVID patients in my hospital are in dire need of oxygen,” Sehgal said through a video message.
“I really don’t know how to help my patients in a situation like this,” Sehgal said. “I’ve been asking for help from everyone, but nothing is coming through. Please help me!”
The Fortis Hospital in Shalimar Bagh, also running on its backup oxygen supply, urged the prime minister, Delhi chief minister, and other ministers for “immediate assistance”.
The Saroj Super Speciality Hospital, having not received an oxygen refill for the past 44 hours, advised its patients to shift to other hospitals.
“We’re running low on oxygen and using our backup now. We have alerted our patients about the situation and are advising them to shift to another hospital. Things are really uncertain,” Saroj Super Speciality Hospital medical director PK Bhardwaj told PTI.
Bhardwaj said the hospital, which needs three metric tonnes of oxygen per day on average, was only getting around an MT of oxygen for the past few days. Seventy patients at the hospital are currently on oxygen support.
A Blogger, Author, and a speaker! Shamik Halder is recognized as a journalist in a newspaper and Admin of NewsGater.com. He loves to write about Today news, Breaking news, Entertainment, etc.
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