DA says Eskom power cuts a deadly threat to people dependent on oxygen machines

The Democratic Alliance (DA) claimed that it had received numerous reports of medical facilities and home-based patients who did not have backup electricity to keep their oxygen machines running when the lights go off.

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CAPE TOWN - Eskom’s unreliable power supply could be a deadly threat to people dependent on oxygen supply.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) claimed that it had received numerous reports of medical facilities and home-based patients who did not have backup electricity to keep their oxygen machines running when the lights go off.

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It said that considering the pending third wave of COVID-19 infections, more and more citizens would rely on life-saving oxygen machines.

"Homecare patients who use oxygen supply at home have been severely affected by the rolling blackouts, and patients with emphysema are at most risk as they have to be on oxygen for at least 12 to 15 hours a day," said the DA’s Haseena Ismail, who was a member of the portfolio committee on Health in Parliament.

Eskom’s already vulnerable system remained under constraint as rolling blackouts continued to plague the nation. This fear is realised even more when stage two power cuts continue for hours each day and many citizens are unable to afford rechargeable machines of this sort.

"Eskom is playing with people’s lives with these rolling blackouts. The power utility should have the decency to provide a proper and reliable schedule to the public. It is not normal that South Africans’ natural right to breathe is being undermined by Eskom," Ismail said.

Energy experts have warned that the power utility's woes mean rolling blackouts are here to stay, not only throughout winter but summer, too, for the next few years.

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