When the pipes carrying oxygen to critically ill Covid-19 patients stopped working at a hospital in the southern Indian state of Karnataka on Sunday evening, relatives of sick patients used towels to fan their loved ones in an attempt to save them.
Some anguished family members sent desperate pleas for oxygen on social media. Others grabbed their phones and frantically dialed local politicians. A few even sprinted down the hospital’s hallways, desperately searching for a doctor, a nurse, anyone, to help.
But nothing worked. There was no oxygen left.
“Everyone was helpless,” said Rani, who goes by one name, and whose husband Sureendra, 29, was among several Covid-19 patients who died because the lifesaving oxygen had suddenly run out. “I want to kill myself. What will I do without my husband now?”
Local officials provided different accounts of the death toll at the hospital. Some said that at least 10 died from oxygen deprivation. Others said that 14 more died after the accident but that they died of comorbidities related to Covid, not directly from the oxygen shortage.
battles a tremendous second wave of infections and demands for medical oxygen far outstrip supply.
after family members said that there, too, the oxygen had run out though officials denied that.
Doctors at dozens of hospitals in Delhi have been warning that they have come dangerously close to running out as well and that it was untenable to keep waiting for last-minute supplies to arrive. As the latest incident shows, at a hospital more than a thousand miles from the capital, oxygen shortages have now spread nationwide.