Home O2 corona-treatment and the emergence of the black market

Oxygen therapy in home isolation -Protocols to be followed and challenges

Hyderabad: Due to fear of visiting Govt hospitals and the inability to afford private hospitals. Many people from middle and lower-middle-class have opted for home isolation care, soon after showing symptoms for Corona in the city and more so in the Old City. While the mild cases were fairly comfortable to take home-based treatment, the ones with complaints of shortness of breath (SOB) along with other symptoms consulted the local doctors and obtained a medical prescription for a home-based oxygen therapy along with other medications.

Several cases were booked against oxygen suppliers for providing oxygen cylinders. 

Seeing the sudden spike in cases and deaths being reported in Old City, many NGOs, drew up a plan to help the poor patients who were not able to get beds under affordable settings in hospitals. By this time, word had spread in the market that many voluntary organizations are supplying oxygen cylinders and patients, as well as attendees, found this route easier and quicker.

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The key reasons for the prices of cylinders rising were that many healthy and rich people started stocking up cylinders at home out of sheer anxiety. This led to a rise in demand and prices which prompted the hospitals and this raised suspicions among the authorities.

“Our people have a tendency to make a fast buck in every possible situation. We saw this during the entire COVID pandemic phase, be it N-95, PPEs, sanitisers, drugs and etc., they were black marketed due to the sudden spurt in demand. Now oxygen is sought after.” said Mr. Mujtaba Hasan Askari of Helping Hand Foundation.

It is estimated that about 800-1000 patients availed these free services from NGOs and social organisations, before the government cracked down upon the unscrupulous elements who were black marketing oxygen cylinders. Although no NGO was issued a tice, it lead to chaos and panic. Most NGOs abruptly stopped supplies which left the patients in a sudden lurch.

Oxygen therapy is not just a standalone protocol being followed by some NGOs like the Helping Hand Foundation. It has a large team of doctors who are working online shifts and reviewing and advising on the volume of oxygen to be given, monitoring vitals as well as medication and advising on testing. In some cases, patients are being advised for hospitalization rather than home care by the doctors.

Even the field staff is provided with PPEs, face shields, N 95 masks and nitrile gloves. They are trained in handling oxygen supplies. Every vehicle has disinfectant sprays and cylinders are being sterilised time and again. Another team is checking on replacements and refilling to ensure that there is no disruption in supplies.

A team of counselors is monitoring the health conditions of the rest of the family. They are counseling them for isolation and testing. This is being done seamlessly and showing good results so far.

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