Friday, December 1, 2023

Demand by Covid patients puts pressure on oxygen supplies in Tabasco

Medical oxygen is proving scarce in Tabasco, presenting a daunting challenge for family and friends of coronavirus patients who need breathing assistance while being cared for at home. 

Refilling an oxygen tank, if you can find one and know where to go for more, can cost upwards of 1,000 pesos (US $44).

José Alberto Carrera traveled 50 kilometers from Macuspana to Villahermosa to fill an oxygen tank for a friend, El Universal reports. After standing in line for two hours, his request was declined as he did not have the necessary paperwork documenting proof of residency, and he was forced to go home empty-handed. 

Among the 20 people queued up was Alejandro, who had been waiting since dawn to refill an oxygen tank for a sick relative. The cost of doing so was overwhelming, but he said his family member was improving. 

Tabasco residents have also taken to social media to look for oxygen, hoping to network through Facebook. Tanks purchased online can cost between 3,800 and 8,500 pesos (US $169 to $377).

All three oxygen companies in Tabasco have sold out of tanks, and now they are only available for rental. Rogue suppliers offer oxygen to sick customers but at double or triple the normal retail price. 

Tabascos Health Minister Silvia Roldán Fernández said that many people who are infected with the coronavirus prefer to be treated with oxygen at home over being hospitalized, a method of treatment she does not recommend. “You are at greater risk, and yes you might be more comfortable,” she said, “but life is life. There are many young people who have decided to do that and who have died in their homes.”

The head of Tabasco’s Office of Consumer Protection (Odeco), Pedro Aldecoa Calzada, says that the state is monitoring companies who sell, rent and refill oxygen tanks.

“We do routine inspections and have sanctioned more than 40 companies for consumer abuse, but people need to have a culture of reporting in order for us to investigate those cases and verify claims,” he says.

Source: El Universal (sp)

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