PTI image – The Indian Express
PTI image – The Indian Express

A crippling second wave of coronavirus infections has overwhelmed hospitals in India, with widespread oxygen and medication shortages.

A shortage of personal protection equipment is also severely hampering the efforts of medical staff in fighting this latest Covid-19 spread, according to a purchasing manager for a group of hospitals in the country.

Maharashtra, the state worst hit by the pandemic, has reported its highest Covid-19 death toll since the beginning of the pandemic with 985 more virus-related fatalities in the last 24 hours.

Pankaj Morey, the purchasing manager for a group of hospitals in Nagpur, Maharashtra, said that “industrial oxygen is now being rerouted to hospitals” and though they face issues, they “try to get it in time by sourcing it from wherever possible.”

AUDIO: Pankaj Morey on oxygen suppliers in India

Many countries have sent equipment and other critical supplies to India to assist in the fight.

“Nobody anticipated that these kind of oxygen levels would be required…The demand is so high that (factories) are not able to fulfill the requirements.”

Pankaj morey, purchasing manager

The ministry of external affairs announced that a shipment from Ireland had arrived, carrying 700 oxygen concentrator units and 365 ventilators. A second flight from the United States carrying more than $100 million in supplies and two Russian flights carrying 22 metric tonnes of equipment and medicines arrived in Delhi on Friday.

 

As city hospitals grapple with oxygen shortage, Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope claims that no Covid-19 patient has died in the state-run hospitals due to the shortage of medical oxygen.

He also said most of the Covid-19 fatalities have occurred due to the delay on part of patients in seeking proper medical treatment.

“I have received reports from (government) hospitals in the state. No Covid-19 patient died due to the shortage of oxygen in these hospitals,” he told reporters.

Tope said that people showing specific symptoms should get themselves tested for coronavirus without delay and seek medical treatment.

“There is still a stigma around being a covid positive patient so people try to hide it.”

Pankaj morey, purchasing manager

Morey said: “young generation think that nothing will happen to them, so they don’t seek timely help.”

He believes that ignorance is the main issue that India faces today.

AUDIO: Pankaj Morey on people’s attitude in India

Apart from the shortages of equipment and oxygen, there is also a shortage of manpower inside the hospitals.

Morey said they need more nursing and training staff.

“The nursing staff spends much more time treating the patients, compared to the medical staff, which is why they are being impacted more. The nursing faculty should be treated with equal importance as the medical staff and we need to ensure that that kind of manpower is available in the future.”

The next phase of the Covid-19 vaccination drive in the country is scheduled to begin from the first of May.

The Maharashtra has announced that it will be providing free Covid-19 vaccines to all citizens aged between 18-44 years.

The lockdown in Maharashtra, which has been in place since April 14, has been extended for another month.