Indian Top Court Orders Government Officials to Present Oxygen Plan for Hospitals

The New Delhi High Court on Monday ordered the Indian government and top officials to present a “comprehensive plan” on meeting New Delhi hospitals’ oxygen requirements within a day, as India’s federal healthcare system continuously gets overwhelmed because of the spiking coronavirus infections in the country.

The top court issued an order that compels the Indian government to devise a plan to help more than 40 New Delhi hospitals acquire an adequate supply of oxygen.

In its order, the New Delhi High Court said that government officials and authorities found guilty of defying its order could face about six months of imprisonment or a monetary penalty.

However, India’s Supreme Court decided against the top court’s order and blocked its decision to swiftly punish officials that failed to end the country’s 2-week-old erratic supply of oxygen to overstretched hospitals amid the pandemic.

“Ultimately putting officers in jail or hauling officers for contempt will not bring oxygen. Please tell us steps to solve this,” Supreme Court Justice Dhananjaya Chandrachud said in a hearing.

Hospitals across India have been pleading to receive more oxygen supply as they become overwhelmed with the country’s spiking number of COVID-19 cases.

The country’s total coronavirus cases have already reached more than 20.6 million since the emergence of the pandemic.

Despite receiving international aid and faster distribution of oxygen supply to the hospitals via national railways and India’s federal air force, medical authorities and doctors said that the supply is still not enough.

“We have just run out of oxygen. We are currently surviving on some oxygen cylinders. Over the next 10 minutes that will also run out. We are again in a crisis mode,” New Delhi’s Batra Hospital Executive Director Sudhanshu Bankata said in a statement on Saturday.

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