The Indian city of Surat in the western state of Gujarat is rapidly running out of oxygen, Hiral Shah, a senior doctor in the city told CNN Tuesday.
“There are about 4,000 patients in the city who need oxygen, said Shah, president of the Indian Medical Association in Surat.
“If the supply is not increased, we are afraid it could lead to deaths,” he said.
The Indian Medical Association (IMA) in Surat appealed to the Chief Minister of Gujarat on Monday, requesting that oxygen supply to the city be increased. On Tuesday they held a meeting with the city’s administrative officials in an attempt to resolve the crisis, Shah said.
“If oxygen supply is not restored regularly within next 12 hours then private Covid hospitals will be forced to shut down treating patients,” the IMA said its letter on Monday.
Since then, about 30% of the total oxygen supply has been restored to the city, according to Shah.
Surat requires 230 metric tonnes of oxygen, Shah said, adding that a majority of its supply comes from Jamanagar district in Gujarat, more than 330 miles from Surat.
“The problem is transportation — it does not reach the city in time,” Shah explained, adding that if the situation persists, hospitals will have to stop taking in patients.
In Ahmedabad, another city in Gujarat, smaller hospitals are struggling to procure enough oxygen for their patients who were quickly turning critical, while bigger, corporate hospitals still have enough oxygen for their patients.
Mona Desai, president of the Ahmedabad Medical Association said:
“Patients are losing their lives because… they are not getting admitted in the ICU, they are waiting in the ambulances, waiting to get admitted, there are no ICUs admitted in any private hospitals…things are bad, really bad…we doctors we feel helpless and frustrated, we want to help but we are helpless.”
The state of Gujarat recorded 510,373 cases of coronavirus and 6,486 deaths on Tuesday, according to the Indian Ministry of Health.
According to Desai, however, the death toll in the state is “much higher” than what is being officially reported.