Goa horror: 13 more die as oxygen supply dips; 4-day toll at 72
Delhi High Court asked the Centre why they are waiting till April 22 to ban oxygen for industrial use. 'Lives are at stake. Are you going to tell patients to wait till April 22 for oxygen?', said the HC bench | Representational image: iStock

Goa horror: 13 more die as oxygen supply dips; 4-day toll at 72

Thirteen more COVID patients died at Goa Medical College and Hospital (GMCH), the state’s largest COVID centre, on Friday (May 14) between 2am and 6 am amid reports of a sudden reduction in the oxygen supply. The toll from oxygen-related emergencies has reached 72 in the past four days, media reports said.

The May 14 incident came a day after the High Court directed the state government to ensure such deaths do not happen again.

Also read: Oxygen concentrators during COVID-19: What we need to know

One of the petitioners in the PILs filed in the High Court over COVID management said that after she received an SOS call, she contacted the authorities. Health Department officials as well as the police rushed to the hospital. They were reportedly told the oxygen supply disruption was restored in 20 minutes, but it was just too late for 15 patients who gasped for breath and died.

Early Thursday (March 13), 15 people died, on Wednesday 20 and on Tuesday, 26 people died between 2 and 6 am.

Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant has sought a probe by the High Court, which is already hearing petitions on the management of the pandemic. The CM visited the hospital this week and said: “The gap between the availability of medical oxygen and its supply might have caused some issues”. The CM denied there was an oxygen shortage or supply disruption.

Also read: ‘Total curfew’ in Goa from May 9 to May 23

However, on Tuesday, Goa’s Principal Secretary PK Goel wrote to the Union government, saying that between May 1 and 10 the state received only 66.74 metric tons of the allocated 110 MT from Maharashtra’s Kolhapur, PTI reported. Kolhapur has been supplying most of the medical oxygen to Goa in the crisis.

The GMCH is full to its capacity and fresh patients are given space on the floor, NDTV had reported.

A doctor, who has been attending to COVID patients at GMCH since February 2020, has told The Indian Express that fluctuations in oxygen pressure had been happening continuously for two weeks. In the day, corrections can be done, unlike at night, the doctor said.

“Yesterday (May 13) there were 18 patients on ventilators in our ward. When 18 patients de-saturated suddenly, we didn’t know what to do. It was just two of us residents in the ward,” The Express quoted him as saying. He claimed that calls were made to the central oxygen panel number of the hospital, but went unanswered.

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