Dealers have been instructed by the district administration against giving oxygen cylinders for COVID-19 patients in home quarantine
After his 80-year-old mother started experiencing breathing difficulties, Shafi, a resident of Udayagiri in Mysuru, desperately knocked on the doors of medical oxygen suppliers in the city for an elusive oxygen cylinder, but in vain.
Unable to identify vacant oxygenated beds in any hospital in the city, he had no option, but to run around for an oxygen cylinder to relieve her of the breathlessness she was facing after giving a sample of her swab for COVID-19 test, which later turned positive.
The medical oxygen dealers are simply turning away the relatives of patients. “We have been instructed by the district administration against giving oxygen cylinders for COVID-19 patients in home quarantine. The administration says oxygen is only for hospital purpose”, said an oxygen cylinder dealer in Mysuru.
But, in the absence of vacant oxygenated beds, the COVID-19 patients have even been denied the option of receiving oxygen at home, rued Mr. Shafi.
Not just oxygen cylinder dealers, even voluntary agencies, which had come forward to provide free oxygen to COVID-19 patients with respiratory infection, have been refused supply of oxygen cylinders.
The United Vision Welfare and Charitable Trust and MESCO, which had started the free oxygen service with technical assistance recently, too have not been able to render their service since the last one week after the supply of cylinders to them was abruptly discontinued. “We have not been given any cylinders since the last few days. We continue to receive requests from desperate patients and their attenders for oxygen. We receive about 8 to 10 requests every day and at least 40 are on our waiting list now”, said a representative of the Trust.
Though the Drugs Control Department in Mysuru said they had not issued specific directions against home use of oxygen cylinders, Nagaraj, Assistant Drug Control Officer, Mysuru, told The Hindu that medical oxygen can be used at home only under medical supervision. “It can prove to be harmful if the flow rate is either lesser or higher than the required quantity”, he said.
When his attention was drawn to the availability of the cylinders for home use till as recently as a week ago, Mr. Nagaraj attributed the scarcity to growing demand of medical oxygen. “There has been a sharp rise in the demand for medical oxygen. Mysuru is now consuming 35 to 40 KL (Kilolitres) against its regular requirement of 20 KL. With beds fast increasing, Mysuru may soon require 70 KL of medical oxygen”, he said.
However, a health official in Mysuru, speaking on condition of anonymity, admitted that many terminally ill patients including the ones suffering from cancer or cardiac problems, besides asthmatic patients are advised medical oxygen at home. “The matter has been communicated to the district administration and a decision is expected on providing oxygen cylinders to non-COVID-19 patients at home”, he said.
But, COVID-19 patients may still have to struggle to find a bed in the hospital if their infection turns serious and leads to breathlessness.
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