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‘Last resort’: desperate oxygen, Indian hospital to court



A patient suffering from coronavirus (COVID-19) is admitted to the hospital ward of Lok Nayak Jai Prakash (LNJP) amid an epidemic in New Delhi, India on April 15. REUTERS / Danish Siddiqui / File Photo

A court in the Indian capital, New Delhi, has become the last hope of many hospitals trying to provide oxygen for COVID-19 patients because of their hazardous waste, while government officials disagree who is responsible.

Two judges of the Delhi High Court held a video conference almost every day to hear a petition from a hospital claiming India’s constitutional right to life protection. Local and federal officials are joining.

Court intervention saved lives, lawyers said.

On Sunday, with just 30 minutes of oxygen remaining for 42 viral patients at Sitaram Bhartia hospital and new equipment was not visible, hospital staff approached Delhi’s court as “A last resort” to help, said attorney Shyel Trehan.

The judge ordered the Delhi state government to deliver supplies immediately.

“The oxygen tanks arrived shortly after the trial and the tanks arrived a few hours later,” Trehan said.

A shortage of medical oxygen has left the city with a population of 20 million in about two weeks, with unprecedented deaths in hospital beds, ambulances and outside car parks.

Delhi records about 20,000 new COVID-19 cases per day, while the city’s Belt Buckle Health System says it needs 976 tons of medical oxygen per day but receives less than 490 tons, allocated by the federal government.

Government representatives of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which manage supplies nationally, have told the court they are doing everything possible and blaming the Delhi government run by rival parties for making the issue a political issue.

Two judges, Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli, have heard of Modi’s lawyers and local authorities arguing over oxygen quotas, shipping problems and a lack of tankers.

And sometimes the judges lose their coolness.

Over the weekend, when Delhi representatives flagged again that there was concern that oxygen equipment had not arrived, putting the lives of patients at risk, Judge Sangki told officials: “The water flowed over the head, enough, enough, enough, enough … enough was enough.”

In late April, Sanghi drew government officials, saying they should. “Ask, borrow, steal or import” oxygen equipment to meet the city’s needs.

He said the state “cannot say that ‘We can provide so much and no more,’ so if people die, let them die. ”

‘Like water for fish’

Both the federal government and Delhi are facing criticism for not being adequately prepared for the epidemic. Since late April, some of the city’s best hospitals have sought court help.

“Not only a record. But now this (court) trial is like water for fish, ”said Prabhsahay Kaur, another attorney who petitioned the court for oxygen from the hospital and received help.

Still, the scenes of desperation, hustle and frustration continued to shine on every day.

In one trial last week, a local government lawyer called an oxygen provider on the phone, hung up the speaker to ask why the cylinder had not reached a hospital while the judge listened patiently.

On Sunday, one lawyer contested to say his hospital had only an hour of oxygen equipment left, while another pleaded with patients. He “began to die” at his nursing home.

Minutes later, another loud voice said: “One hundred and forty patients, an hour left. We are in trouble … There is a crisis” as the judge tries to calm the speaker and urges the government. Take immediate action

In another exchange, home ministry officials said their officers were at war and asked the court’s blessing.

Tushar Mehta, an attorney for India, who represents the central government, said, “We desperately want … the blessing of the Lord.”

Our Standard: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principle.


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