It was 4 AM and an eerie silence shrouded the campus of Rajiv Gandhi Super Speciality hospital. It may have appeared usual in normal times but the hospital is a dedicated Covid facility. At a time when each hospital is crowded with a continuous influx of Covid-19 patients, such silence seemed conspicuous.

Upon probing, it was known that the hospital is not allowing any new patients. The staff present there told The Statesman that the shortage of medical Oxygen supply in the national capital has forced the Delhi government-run hospital to temporarily close its holding area for Covid-19 patients.

The staff added that the holding area will become operational when the supply of oxygen is reinstated.

“We only have the stock for over 500 patients admitted here. Any new admission is not happening currently due to the dearth of the oxygen,” a senior hospital official said.

The holding area of the hospital looked desolate. The guards on duty told The Statesman that the healthcare staff deployed there were relieved from the duty there since the facility was unable to arrange resources for the patients who would arrive there seeking hospitalisation.

A holding area is a part of the emergency department in hospitals where trauma patients are temporarily held before disposition (for admission, transfer, Or, discharge) but cannot be accommodated due to a lack of inpatient beds.

The guards also said that the scarcity of oxygen led to the scenario. “Oxygen supply is provided even in the holding area where patients wait before securing beds for themselves. The hospital has saved supply for the inpatients from the limited stock. Any new patients coming to seek bed are not turned away,” a guard informed on the condition of anonymity.

The in-charge of the Oxygen facility said that the hospital is expected to restart its holding area when a new batch of Oxygen supply is ensured to the hospital. “It (Oxygen supply) is expected to arrive before afternoon,” he informed requesting anonymity.

The hospital authorities were unable to comment on the story.

Notably, Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia had warned on Tuesday evening about the grim situation of medical oxygen supply in the city. He had said that the stock of major government and private hospitals will be over in 8-12 hours and urged the Centre for immediate intervention.

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had also reiterated on Tuesday that there was a serious oxygen crisis and again sought help from the central government. “Serious oxygen crisis persists in Delhi. I again urge the centre to urgently provide oxygen to Delhi. Some hospitals are left with just a few hours of oxygen,” he had tweeted.

Kejriwal had said on Sunday that Delhi is facing an “acute shortage” of oxygen for COVID-19 patients and alleged that the quota of the city has been diverted to other states.