In one of the most viscerally devastating days of the pandemic’s second wave in India, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, one of the biggest in the national capital and the country, reported on Friday morning that 25 severely ill patients had died in the past 24 hours and 60 other patients were at risk. On the same day, fifteen COVID-19 patients were killed in a fire that swept through the intensive care unit of Vijay Vallabh Hospital in Virar, 50 km from Mumbai. The tragedy is just the latest in a series of hospital accidents in Maharashtra as the state battles an unprecedented surge in cases. Two days ago, 24 COVID-19 patients on life support died after a leak in a medical oxygen tank disrupted the supply of the gas at Dr. Zakir Hussain Hospital in Nashik. And less than a month ago, a fire in a hospital at Bhandup in Mumbai led to the death of nine COVID-19 patients.


In Delhi, several other hospitals also reported dwindling supplies even as the number of COVID-19 patients mounted. The city has been grappling with shortage in oxygen supply for the past seven days amid a huge surge in coronavirus cases. Artemis Hospital in Gurugram sent out at least two public calls for oxygen, while Max Healthcare, with six hospitals and 1000 beds in the capital region, said at one point that it had less than one hour’s oxygen supply in two major hospitals. The Max Healthcare group, which has six hospitals with a total of over 1,000 beds across the Delhi-NCR area, said it had stopped new admissions in all its hospitals in Delhi-NCR due to low oxygen stocks.


As per the latest reports, from Friday night, as many as 20 critically ill COVID-19 patients died at Jaipur Golden Hospital in the national capital on Friday night due to low oxygen stocks with the hospital on Saturday morning sending out an urgent plea for more oxygen. The Moolchand hospital chain in Delhi sent out an SOS this morning over oxygen shortage as it appealed for urgent help, saying it has more than 130 COVID patients on life support.


The incidents in Maharashtra, and the continuing crisis in Delhi point to a complete breakdown of the health system. Questions will have to be asked, and accountability sought, for the lack of planning and preparedness that has led us to this point. For now, it seems there may only be darker days ahead(the Hindu)


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