India: to survive the Covid-19, oxygen deale on the black market

Looting, military escorts and auctions: the oxygen war is raging in India, which is raging under the strongest wave of coronaviruses in the world.

Oxygen shortages are hitting Indian hospitals and patients are trying to get supplies themselves. SAJJAD HUSSAIN / AFP

Advertisements proliferate on social media and numbers are exchanged under the elbow like those of traffickers of all kinds. But cam has never been more vital: 02, oxygen. As the coronavirus epidemic explodes in India,the black market of these precious canisters is flourishing to help patients turned away from saturated hospitals.

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“Urgent. Look for an oxygenated bed for an 8-month pregnant woman. She’s not well at all. If you have any leads let me know!! “Please turn. I’m looking for an oxygen cylinder for a citizen in Indore. His name is Hagami Vyas and he is 73 years old,”implores another internet user. “I’m always looking for oxygen in Delhi for a loved one. All our tracks require to wait 4 days, but we do not have this time. Help us,”panics a young man.

600 euros on the black market

Oxygen shortages are out of the way than hospitals. With 349,999 infections and 2,767 deaths in 24 hours, the health system is running out of means to care for patients. At Jaipur Golden Hospital, northwest of Delhi, 20 patients died in intensive care units due to lack of oxygen, the Indian Express newspaper reported. “Thenumber one challenge is to find oxygen,”says Arvind Kejriwal, head of government in Delhi territory.

As revealed by the investigative website Scroll,the daily need for medical oxygen is 70% greater than the diverted amount of industrial use for Covid-19 patients. “There are demands for 10,000 cylinders a day, but we can only make 2000 cylinders a day, that’s all,”said Puneet Khurana, head of Everest Kanto Cylinders, based in Mumbai, one of India’s largest manufacturers. “The bottles are made in anticipation of demand, but in February-March we slowed down production because it seemed that the covid was finished and there was no requirement,”says Pravin Nandu of Euro India Private Limited.

It is safer to buy a canister yourself than to be hospitalized

Parveen, New Delhi resident

The only solution is to source oxygen from the black market. “It’s safer to buy a canister yourself than to be hospitalized, even in a good facility,”Parveen, a well-to-do New Delhi resident, told Le Figaro. I preferred to have one at home for my mother, who is 80 years old, in case she gets sick.” The supplier was blown away by a colleague, who herself cared for her husband at home… for the modest sum of $300 a cylinder.

Looting and military escort

WhatsApp numbers circulate on social networks. In Indore, Madhya Pradesh, Nitin Raghuvanshi delivers oxygen bottles directly to his home, priced on request. Individuals are raising the stakes: an individual sold an oxygen tank for 35,000 rupees (nearly 600 euros) to Noida, reports the Times of India newspaper. That’s eight times more than the normal price.

The oxygen mafia is racing. In Madhya Pradesh, a hospital was looted as soon as the delivery truck arrived and supplies are now being supplied under military escort: the Delhi High Court has ordered the central government to deploy paramilitary forces to ensure a delivery corridor to the capital.

Source: Inde : pour survivre au Covid-19, l’oxygène se deale au marché noir (

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