The country’s oxygen crisis took a deadly turn on Wednesday (April 21) when at least 22 patients died at a government-run hospital in Maharashtra’s Nashik district after a leak in the main oxygen tank cut off supply to the COVID patient ward. The tragedy came on a day when the country hit a new high with 2.95 lakh positive cases and 2,023 deaths in the 24 hours ending 9 am on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Delhi continues to report oxygen shortage despite Centre hiking the national capital’s supply.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has ordered a high-level inquiry into the Nashik incident and also announced a compensation of ₹5 lakh each to the kin of the deceased. Dr Zakir Husain hospital is a dedicated COVID hospital with over 150 patients being treated here at present. The technical team worked for an hour to plug the leakage, but till then the damage was done. A cork in the oxygen tank had malfunctioned which led to a reduction in pressure in the oxygen pipeline that goes straight into COVID wards. Maharashtra recorded 62,097 new cases and 519 deaths in the last 24 hours.
The five worst affected states going by total cases, as on Wednesday (April 21) are Maharashtra (3,960,359), Kerala (1,197,301), Karnataka (1,109,650), Tamil Nadu (962,935), and Andhra Pradesh (942,135).
Meanwhile, India reported 2.95 lakh cases and 2,023 deaths in the 24 hours ending 9 am on Wednesday. India’s COVID-19 tally is now at 1,56,16,130, with a death toll of 1,82,553. There are 21,57,538 active cases in the country.
The Serum Institute of India (SII), which manufactures Covishield vaccine, issued a press release declaring prices for its vaccine doses. Serum said its jabs would be available for state governments for ₹400 per dose and to private hospitals at ₹600 per dose. It said that the company’s contract with Centre remains unchanged, which means the Union government will continue to get Covishield doses at ₹150 each.
The opposition criticized the differential price regime and asked for uniform prices to safeguard states’ financial interests, which have been severely hampered by the COVID crisis.
A day after Centre promised to help Delhi meet its ever-rising oxygen demand, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Wednesday thanked the Modi government for keeping its promise and hiking the national capital’s oxygen quota.
Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, however, urged for more oxygen supply, considering the demand of nearly 18,000 patients, who are admitted in various hospitals of Delhi right now.
Increasing demand for oxygen has seen states squabbling among themselves. Haryana Minister Anil Vij accused Delhi govt of ‘stealing’ oxygen from tanker on way to Faridabad hospitals. The minister tweeted saying: “I came to know that the tanker was stopped by certain people in Delhi yesterday, while it was on its way to Faridabad for distributing oxygen to certain hospitals. If the governments forcibly start stealing oxygen like this, it will lead to chaos. It is highly condemnable. We will now put escorts with oxygen tankers.”
Tamil Nadu on Wednesday reported over 11,000 new cases, the highest since the second wave began. With 53 deaths, the death toll so far has gone up to 13,258. There are 84,361 active cases in the state.
The Karnataka government set up a ‘war room’ in the state capital on Wednesday to monitor supply of oxygen and Remdesivir at hospitals.
The state recorded 23,558 fresh cases and 116 fatalities in the last 24 hours; case tally stands at 12,22,202 and active cases at 1,76,188.
Putting to rest the doubts about efficacy of cOVID vaccines, the Union Health Ministry on Wednesday said about 0.04 per cent people tested positive after the second dose of Covaxin and 0.03 per cent after the second dose of Covishield.
The state reported the highest single-day spike in cases since the outbreak last year with 19,577 cases and a high test positivity rate of 17.45%. The state has complained to the Centre that it does not have adequate quantities of vaccine.
Goa, meanwhile, announced COVID curfew in the state till April 30. Night curfew will come into effect from 10 pm on Wednesday.