Coronavirus
Customers line up for oxygen refills at a Mexico City supplier. Customers line up for oxygen refills at a Mexico City supplier.

Finding oxygen a challenge for families treating Covid victims at home

Demand is up, forcing consumers to search for supplies

As Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations for the disease continue to increase in Mexico City, medical supply stores that refill oxygen tanks are reporting supply shortages.

Hector Silva, an employee at a store where a line of people waited patiently for oxygen to arrive, told the newspaper El Universal that he has seen supplies go scarce over the last two weeks. His store had been out of oxygen for 24 hours, he said, and he wasn’t sure when more might arrive.

Mauricio Fuentes, a customer at a store in the city’s Roma neighborhood, said on Saturday he had tried unsuccessfully to refill his 70-year-old father’s oxygen tank in the Tacubaya neighborhood. His father has Covid-19, Fuentes said, and he must refill the tank daily.

Antonio, another customer in the same line, said he had gone to two different areas looking for a tank refill.

The Mexico City government has called for citizens to go into “total isolation” as hospitals in the capital come under intense pressure due to an increase in the admission of coronavirus patients. Just over 85% of general care beds set aside for Covid-19 patients in Mexico City are currently occupied, according to federal data, while 74% of those with ventilators are in use.

Oxygen support is frequently needed not only for people with active cases of Covid-19 but also for recovering patients who continue to have intermittent problems with breathing.

According to Google Trends, search terms related to oxygen and oxygen tanks have increased in Mexico City since October, as well as in México state, Chiapas, Campeche and Tamaulipas. Appeals by people asking for leads on where to buy and refill oxygen tanks have become common on social media.

Last week, Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum said her government plans to determine whether prices for oxygen tanks and refills have gone up with the increase in coronavirus cases.

Source: El Universal (sp)

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