Covid-19. Mexico faces oxygen cylinder shortage

The banal oxygen cylinder has become the object of all hopes but also of all desires in Mexico. In the capital of 9 million inhabitants, Mexico City, the wait to get a bottle or fill your own is often longer than its duration in oxygen …

With more than 90% of occupied hospital beds, the capital is suffocated by the pandemic of Covid-19. And fear is mounting in the rest of the country which has just crossed the 150,000 dead and continues the records in recent days, with another 1,713 deaths on Tuesday. The oxygen rush was immediate with demand rising 700% from December, according to the Federal Consumer Agency.

“Return the bottles”

Because faced with the congestion of hospitals, the governor of the capital, Claudia Sheinbaum, encouraged a plan to allow some patients to spend their last two or three days of recovery at home, on life support. The authorities have announced the purchase of oxygen in the United States and assure that there will be no shortage. The problem is that the bottles are missing …

According to Ricardo Sheffield, head of the Federal Consumer Agency, some Mexicans have built up stocks because of the uncertainty: Many keep their bottles even if they no longer need them ”,just in case… They thus deprive other patients. The urgency is such that the federal and local authorities and some producers of oxygen cylinders have launched the campaign “Return the cylinders, for the love of life”, on social networks.

Black market

The desperation of the families of the sick and the near saturation of hospitals also represent a perfect breeding ground for the black market. Several thefts, sometimes armed robbery, have already been reported in public hospitals.

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The extent of fraudulent sales is taken very seriously. Ricardo Sheffield warns of stolen bottles that you may never receive and that are intended for industrial use ».

Faced with the risk, the National Guard was called in to help monitor the oxygen transport. Because, without the precious bottles, the fight to unclog hospitals promises to be lost in advance.

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