Hospitals in the national capital must be given their full quota of medical oxygen today "by whatever means", the Delhi High Court told the centre as it heard petitions on how the health infrastructure is trying to cope with the deadly second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Water has gone above the head. You have to arrange everything now. You have made the allocations. You have to fulfil it. Eight lives have been lost. We can't shut our eyes to it," the high court said today, referring to a hospital that reported loss of lives after oxygen supply stopped for 80 minutes.
The eight people who died at Delhi's Batra Hospital on Saturday afternoon included a doctor.
"We direct the centre to ensure that Delhi receives its 490 tonnes (of medical oxygen) today by whatever means. It falls on the centre to arrange tankers as well. The allocation was made on April 20 and not even one day Delhi has received its allocated supply. If this is not implemented, we may even consider initiating contempt proceedings," the high court said.
The court declined the centre's request to adjourn the hearing till Monday when its officers would explain the situation.
"Enough is enough. No one is asking for more than allocated. If you can't supply the allocation today, we will see your explanation on Monday," the high court said.
The surge in Covid cases in recent weeks have led to what is now being called a deadlier second wave of the pandemic. Social media is full of stories of desperate people trying to find oxygen or a hospital bed for their friends and family.
More and more people this time are complaining of breathlessness, which needs oxygen support. However, the supply of oxygen has become severely limited due to the sudden jump in demand across cities and towns. Only now the centre is running "Oxygen Express" trains carrying tankers to states worst hit by Covid.