NEW DELHI – Infections in India hit another grim daily record on Thursday as demand for medical oxygen jumped sevenfold and the government denied reports that it was slow in distributing life-saving supplies from abroad.
Eleven COVID-19 patients died when pressure in an oxygen line dropped suddenly in a government medical college hospital in Chengalpet in southern India on Wednesday night, possibly because of a faulty valve, The Times of India newspaper reported.
Hospital authorities said they repaired the pipeline last week, but the consumption of oxygen had doubled since then, the newspaper said.
Demand for hospital oxygen has increased sevenfold since last month, a government official said, as India scrambles to set up large oxygen plants and transport oxygen.
Most hospitals in India aren’t equipped with independent plants that generate oxygen directly for patients, As a result, hospitals typically rely on liquid oxygen, which can be stored in cylinders and transported in tankers.
Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said India has enough liquid oxygen but it’s facing capacity constraints in moving it.
The United States, Britain, Germany and several other nations are rushing therapeutics, rapid virus tests and oxygen, along with materials needed to boost domestic production of COVID-19 vaccines to ease pressure on the fragile health infrastructure.
The government meanwhile described as "totally misleading" Indian media reports that it took seven days to come up with a procedure for distributing urgent medical supplies that started arriving on April 25
The statement sad a streamlined and systematic mechanism for allocation of the supplies received by India has been put in place for effective distribution