Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Saturday said the chances of a third wave of Covid-19 (the fifth for Delhi) are "quite real" and assured that the Delhi government is preparing to combat it on a "war-footing", as he inaugurated 22 oxygen pressure swing absorption (PSA) plants in nine state government-run hospitals.
"We are now at the risk of the third wave of Covid-19 and are receiving indications that the United Kingdom has already started experiencing the third wave. Covid-19 cases are rising rapidly, even though 45% of the people are already vaccinated there. However, initial indications suggest that the intensity is lower this time. So, we also have to be fully prepared for the same. Delhi government is committed to preparing with full conviction," Kejriwal said in a digital address during the inauguration of the oxygen plants.
These 22 small-sized oxygen plants can, in total, produce 17.3 metric tonnes (MT) of medical oxygen, while 17 more such plants will be commissioned by July.
The Delhi government plans to set up 57 oxygen generation plants with a total capacity of 64MT, which will generate 35,000 litres of oxygen per minute, data seen by HT showed. Of the 57 oxygen plants, 22 were inaugurated on Saturday, five were commissioned in May, while the Central government has already installed six. The Delhi government will set up 17 more plants, while the Centre will open seven.
"The fourth wave of Covid-19 in Delhi saw a huge shortage of oxygen. Delhi is not an industrial state and so it doesn't have its own source of [medical] oxygen. Usually, Delhi needs a lesser share of oxygen for its hospitals, which is obtained from other states. But during the fourth wave, the demand increased manifold. Delhi needs 150-200 MT of medical oxygen for non-Covid purposes, apart from industrial purposes. This demand rose to 700 MT during the fourth wave because every patient needed oxygen," Kejriwal said.
"We didn't have the ability to produce oxygen, nor did we have tankers to procure oxygen from states like Haryana and Uttar Pradesh on the directions of the central government. Now, we have to be fully prepared," he said.
In addition to oxygen plants and at least 6,000 oxygen cylinders, the government has also set up three storage plants of 57 MT each, and arranged oxygen tanks of 13.5 MT each.
Roshni Nadar Malhotra, chairperson of HCL Technologies, said HCL is contributing 21 ready-to-install oxygen plants imported from France. "Seventeen of these have already been installed across seven hospitals in Delhi. The remaining four have also arrived and will be installed over the next few days," she said.
Delhi health minister Satyendar Jain said of the 22 PSA plants, 17 have been given by HCL, and the remaining five by Maruti Udyog. "HCL will be supplying four more plants, which will arrive soon. Similarly, five such plants have already been installed in hospitals like Sanjay Gandhi Memorial Hospital, Satyawadi Raja Harishchandra, Ambedkar Nagar hospital, Deen Dayal Upadhyay Hospital, and Burari Hospital. These plants have already been commissioned," he said.
Hospitals such as Sanjay Gandhi Memorial Hospital, Rajiv Gandhi Super Speciality Hospital, Deep Chand Bandhu Hospital, Babasaheb Ambedkar Hospital, Guru Tegh Bahadur Hospital and Nirankari Field Hospital have got the plants installed recently.