In yet another unfortunate incident, at least 11 COVID-19 patients availing treatment at Ruia Hospital in Andhra Pradesh’s Tirupati lost their lives due to a disruption in oxygen supply. All the deceased were admitted to the ICU unit of the state-run hospital.
The development comes at a time when the country is facing a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic resulting in longer queues outside hospitals and crematoriums. The demand for medical oxygen has also gone up, with the Centre as well as states struggling to manage the demand.
The family members of the deceased alleged that the oxygen supply was disrupted for 25-45 minutes. However, Chittoor district collector M Hari Narayanan refuted the allegation. The bureaucrat also said there was no scarcity of oxygen in the hospital and adequate supply was in place.
He said there was a five-minute lag in reloading the oxygen cylinder that caused the pressure to drop, resulting in the deaths. “The oxygen supply was restored within five minutes and everything is now normal. Because of this, we could prevent more casualties,” the collector added.
30 doctors rushed to ICU
About 30 doctors were immediately rushed into the ICU to attend to the patients when the panic due to the oxygen disruption started. In all, about 700 COVID-19 patients were undergoing treatment in the ICU and oxygen beds in Ruia while another 300 were in normal wards.
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy expressed grief over the incident. He spoke to the district collector and directed that a detailed investigation be conducted into the incident.
Hospitals scrambling for oxygen
In the last few weeks, several disturbing stories on hospitals in India scrambling to get medical oxygen have made global headlines amid the battle against the novel coronavirus pandemic. Last week, a 12-member National Task Force was set up by the Supreme Court to assess availability and distribution of medical oxygen—on scientific, rational and equitable basis—across the country.
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