The primary alarm bell rang on the afternoon of April 12 at Shree Ashirwad Hospital, a Covid-19 nursing house in Badlapur, a satellite tv for pc city 50 km east of Mumbai.
For over a month, six large oxygen cylinders have been stationed on the footpath outdoors the hospital entrance, and plenty of smaller ones have been jostling for area within the slender corridors of the hospital. That day, most have been empty, awaiting substitute, however the vendor had no inventory to produce. The hospital had 47 Covid-19 sufferers, all on oxygen help, and 6 hours of oxygen left.
One physician started making frantic calls to households of six ICU sufferers, asking them to search out one other hospital, and one other started calling hospitals to examine if that they had spare cylinders or beds. Because it turned out, 50 hospitals in Badlapur, Ambernath, Ulhasnagar, Kalyan and Dombivali (all municipal companies in Thane) have been quick operating out of oxygen. Their widespread provider, S Okay Companies, was making determined calls to his distributors for liquid medical oxygen (LMO).
“We have been below stress for hours. Sufferers may die with out oxygen and no different hospital had mattress or oxygen to take our sufferers,” stated Dr Datta Baikare.
By late night, the hospital discovered a vendor after agreeing to a better value — Rs 21-25 per cubic metre, as a substitute of the same old Rs 17-18 — however at that time, little else mattered.
That day handed, however amid a rising Covid curve, concern of oxygen scarcity looms over personal and authorities Covid hospitals in Maharashtra, specifically rural areas, the place nursing houses and smaller authorities hospitals are actually scrambling to create area for oxygen cylinders.
Vicky Punjabi, proprietor of S Okay Companies that provides oxygen in Thane, stated day by day demand has gone up from 6 MT a month in the past to 21 MT within the 50 hospitals that he provides to.
With a capability to supply over 7,000 MT oxygen per day throughout the nation, the Centre plans to drift a young to import 50,000 MT to fulfill the surge in oxygen demand in 12 high-burden states: Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Chhattisgarh, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Punjab and Haryana.
In Maharashtra, the worst-hit state within the second wave, with over 6.38 lakh energetic circumstances (40% of India’s Covid illness burden), demand for medical oxygen far exceeds the state’s manufacturing capability of 1,250 MT per day. Regardless of your entire manufacturing now diverted for medical use, it’s nonetheless not sufficient, with the demand 1,200-1,300 MT a day and rising.
Maharashtra has over 60,000 individuals on oxygen help in hospitals and plenty of others on oxygen help at house. The state is getting 50 MT a day of liquid medical oxygen from Chhattisgarh, and one other 50 MT a day from Gujarat.
D R Gahane, Joint Commissioner (Drug), Maharashtra Meals and Drug Administration (FDA), says, “If circumstances don’t dip, we might have to completely rely upon different states for oxygen.”
“We want restraint (in oxygen use) to keep away from panic. Panic and anxiousness enhance demand,” stated Maharashtra Well being Secretary Dr Pradeep Vyas.
Oxygen scarcity has pressured Siddhivinayak Multispecialty Hospital in Badlapur to cease new admissions since April 12. Till January, the hospital may simply maintain 10 jumbo cylinders over two days, however now the ten cylinders barely final 5 hours. Medical doctors say Covid sufferers in ICU require 10-50 litres of oxygen per minute. A jumbo cylinder with 7 cubic metre oxygen can run out in 30-40 minutes. A dura cylinder, 22 instances bigger than jumbo, is the brand new various for smaller hospitals.
In an try to plug the scarcity, the Centre’s Empowered Group-2 has determined to divert over 17,000 MT of LMO to the 12 surge states in three phases between April 20-30. However the oxygen provide chain has many extra knots to untangle.
“Logistics of transport is the most important problem,” says Saket Tiku, president of the All India Industrial Gases Producers’ Affiliation.
Vicky Punjabi of S Okay Companies says that with demand going up, he wants extra drivers, automobiles and cylinders. “We don’t have that sort of sources.”
An trade official stated oxygen is transported in liquid kind in cryogenic tankers, earlier than being transformed into gasoline and saved in jumbo or dura cylinders.
An official from Inox Air Merchandise, one in every of India’s high oxygen producers, that caters to 60 per cent of the nation’s LMO demand, stated the corporate has 550 tankers, every with a capability of 5,000-10,000 litres. The corporate has diverted its sources from nitrogen and argon gasoline manufacturing to oxygen, the official stated. “There are sufficient suppliers in city areas. The problem is in satellite tv for pc cities and rural areas the place there are not any storage tankers,” he added.
Maharashtra has over 100 cryogenic tankers to move oxygen. In an excellent state of affairs, it takes 3-5 days for oxygen to journey from a producer to the affected person’s mattress. However with sources stretched, rural hospitals are having to attend 6-7 days earlier than they get their provides. On Maharashtra’s request, the Ministry of Railways is formulating a plan to move cryogenic tankers in trains to hurry up supply.
On the Kulgaon-Badlapur Municipal Company Hospital in Thane, administrator Deepak Pujari stated that with 400 Covid-19 sufferers on oxygen help, he wants 5 MT oxygen day by day. “Provide is prioritised to massive cities and larger centres. That’s the reason smaller centres like ours face points. It is going to be sorted quickly, our collector is engaged on it,” he stated.
In every district, a group with members of the FDA, collectorate and well being division has been tasked to evaluate the wants of hospitals and monitor down suppliers to watch the stream.
Again in Badlapur, on April 14, two days after hospitals ran out of oxygen, a truck stuffed with dura cylinders stops outdoors Shree Ashirvad Hospital. Three docs rush outdoors to watch the unloading. “Oxygen is essentially the most prized commodity proper now,” says one in every of them.