By LE Desk

Patna, April 24: The Patna High Court has said that there is a deficiency in the supply of medical oxygen for treating Covid-19 patients in Bihar and directed that the shortfall be met through proper coordination between the state and the Centre at the earliest so that no patient was denied admission in hospitals due to shortage of oxygen.

Additional Solicitor General KN Singh said the Centre has allocated 194 mt of medical oxygen to the state, which the state would require to lift. “However, so far the state was getting less supply, maybe, due to logistics problems,” he added, the Hindustan Times reported.

Presenting its action plan before the court, including status of oxygen supply, Bihar government’s senior counsel Ranjit Kumar on Friday told the bench of Justice Chakradhari Sharan Singh and Justice Mohit Kumar Shah that adequate oxygen was available as per the requirement of existing oxygenated beds, while it is striving for more in view of the increased demand due to spike in Covid-19 cases.

Kumar said the state was also planning to boost oxygen availability by taking measures such as installing a pressure swing absorption (PSA) oxygen plant. A proposal for the same has already been sent to the Centre, he said. Earlier, the state government had demanded 300 mt from the Centre.

“At present, PMCH and NMCH plants produce oxygen at the rate of 300 litres per minute, while Darbhanga, Muzaffarpur, Bettiah and Madhepura medical college and hospitals have a capacity of 280 litres per minute. Besides, Pawapuri hospital will have its functional from May 1, while those at Gaya and Bhagalpur will get operational from May 21. Together, the capacity will go up to 2620 litres per minute,” he added.

The bench, however, told the state counsel to let the people know what the state has and what it does not have in the public domain through portal and newspaper advertisements. The bench, however, countered why the state suffered a shortage in mid-April when it claims no shortage today.

Earlier, the court sought to know the state’s action plan, including availability and the mode and manner in which the state government planned to supply oxygen to different dedicated Covid hospitals and dedicated Covid healthcare centres, as also private hospitals. The shortage of oxygen was also corroborated by the report of the registrar general of the HC into the death of Gagan Mishra, an HC officer, reportedly, because of the unavailability of oxygen in various hospitals in the city of Patna. The court had asked for a report.

“On April 16, Mishra’s condition deteriorated and there was acute scarcity of oxygen cylinders in the hospital. On request of Mishra’s family members, one cylinder (jumbo size) containing 40 litres of oxygen was provided to the hospital for Mishra’s care. That day, in the Covid Ward of the hospital, there were 20 patients in the critical care unit. On April 17, for the care of 20 admitted patients in the critical care ward, the hospital needed 100 cylinders of jumbo size but the hospital received only 10 cylinders of oxygen. Later, Mishra was advised to shift to a higher centre for further management. Till April 21, the hospital was not admitting new critical patients,” the report submitted before the HC stated, as reported by HT.

Taking serious note of the facts mentioned in the report regarding the paucity of oxygen in the state, the bench requested Ranjit Kumar to seek detailed instructions from the state of Bihar in respect of the effective steps which have been taken and are proposed to be taken to tide over the situation arising out of reported acute shortage of medicinal oxygen in Bihar.

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