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Indonesia hospital: 33 COVID patients die amid oxygen outage

July 4, 2021 GMT
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Medical workers wheel oxygen tanks at Dr. Sardjito Central Hospital in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, Sunday, July 4, 2021. A number of COVID-19 patients died amid an oxygen shortage at the hospital on the main island of Java following a nationwide surge of coronavirus infections. (AP Photo/Kalandra)
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Medical workers wheel oxygen tanks at Dr. Sardjito Central Hospital in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, Sunday, July 4, 2021. A number of COVID-19 patients died amid an oxygen shortage at the hospital on the main island of Java following a nationwide surge of coronavirus infections. (AP Photo/Kalandra)

YOGYAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Dozens of coronavirus patients died after a public hospital on Indonesia’s main island of Java ran out of liquid oxygen amid a nationwide surge in COVID-19 cases, a hospital official said Sunday.

At least 33 patients with severe coronavirus infections died after the central supply of liquid medical oxygen ran out late Saturday at Dr. Sardjito General Hospital in Yogyakarta city due to delays from suppliers over the weekend, said hospital spokesman Banu Hermawan.

The oxygen shortage in the city’s largest hospital was due to an increase in patients arriving in deteriorating condition, Hermawan said.

At least 63 virus patients died during treatment for COVID-19 in the hospital since Saturday — 33 of them during the period when the central liquid oxygen supply ran out — even though the hospital switched to using oxygen cylinders during the outage, he said. Medical oxygen comes in liquid and compressed forms.

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“Their deteriorating condition contributed the most to their deaths,” said Hermawan.

The hospital’s central oxygen supply was operational again at 4:45 a.m. Sunday, after 15 tons of liquid oxygen were delivered.

The hospital had asked health authorities for help with the oxygen shortage, including requesting oxygen supplies from other hospitals as the supply of liquid oxygen declined to critical levels late Saturday, he explained.

Hermawan said the hospital switched to oxygen cylinders, including 100 cylinders donated by the Yogyakarta regional police.

Indonesia is battling an explosion of COVID-19 cases that has strained its health care system.

Across Java, Indonesia’s most populated island, hospitals began to erect plastic tents in mid-June to serve as makeshift intensive care units, and patients waited for days before being admitted. Oxygen tanks were rolled out on the sidewalk for those lucky enough to receive them, while others were told they would need to find their own supply.