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Oxygen in high demand; Siliguri wholesalers rue refill problems

Many elderly persons said they were facing problems waiting in long queues for hours.

Statesman News Service | Siliguri |

With Covid-19 cases on the rise, the demand for oxygen cylinders has also soared high in Siliguri.

Wholesalers, on the other hand, have said that they were unable to sell the cylinders as per the demand in the past few months.

They cited their inability to refill cylinders and non-supply of new ones from oxygen plants.

According to experts, the demand for oxygen cylinders and oxygen concentrators, a device that concentrates oxygen by removing nitrogen, is high, given the surge in the Covid-19 cases.

“We had the capacity to sell 40-50 oxygen cylinders daily, but now it has come down to 10- 15,” said a wholesaler, Ranjan Saha.

“Many Covid patients who are under home isolation require oxygen cylinders, while people suffering from diseases like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or other pulmonary diseases, asthma, also need them,” Mr Saha added.

Meanwhile, people are also buying oxygen cylinders in panic. A customer who purchased a five-litre cylinder said, “Only I am vaccinated in my family. Although no one has been infected with the virus, I purchased a cylinder today just in case it runs out of stock.”

According to Mr Saha, they had been facing problems refilling the cylinders and of nonsupply of new cylinders from plants.

People protest vaccine ‘refusal’

Vaccination centres in Siliguri are grappling with the rush of people wanting to get the shots, given the shortage of Covid-19 vaccines. Some persons today agitated at the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital (NBMCH) after they failed to get the Covid-19 jabs, it is learnt.

A woman, who works in a canteen of a bank as a daily wage earner, said she was not able to get the first dose of the vaccine.

“I work as a daily wage earner and had taken leave to take the Covid-19 shot. I stood in the queue at 9 am at the NBMCH, and they counted the number of people in the queue to 90. After waiting for hours, they closed the gate of the vaccination centre, saying they had run out of stock. They stopped the vaccination process midway. It is very difficult for me to come again because my absence at work means a day’s wage gone,” said the resident of Milan Pally, Renu Subba.

Another woman from Saktigarh said that she waited for more than three hours and then came to know that she would not be given the vaccine today.

“They first said only 90 persons will be administered with the Covid-19 shots, but after around 40 persons they said there was no vaccine left. How is this possible?” she said.

Many elderly persons said they were facing problems waiting in long queues for hours. Sources at the community medicine department at the NBMCH said they had requested many people to wait for the shots today due to limited number of doses.

“There has been a shortage of vaccines all over the state, but despite that we are trying to cover a maximum number of people standing in queues. We already informed them today, but some persons refused to accept the fact. The NBMCH has vaccinated more than 14,000 people with both Covishield and Covaxin so far. Around 340 people received the Covid-19 jabs today,” a source at the department said.