Suspected Death Due to Oxygen Crisis only in One State, says Centre
New Delhi: In a recent Press Conference, the Joint Secretary in the Union Health Ministry has clarified that only one state has till now reported "suspected" death due to oxygen shortage during the second wave of COVID-19. The centre had reportedly sought data from the states regarding the deaths due to oxygen shortage. "When the question was raised in Parliament, states...
New Delhi: In a recent Press Conference, the Joint Secretary in the Union Health Ministry has clarified that only one state has till now reported "suspected" death due to oxygen shortage during the second wave of COVID-19.
The centre had reportedly sought data from the states regarding the deaths due to oxygen shortage. "When the question was raised in Parliament, states were specifically asked this question and as per reports received only one state mentioned suspected death and no state has so far said that there were deaths because of oxygen shortage," Joint Secretary Lav Agarwal was quoted saying by PTI.
Meanwhile, recently the Centre has also accepted the instances of death in Andhra Pradesh that had allegedly happened due to the "drop in pressure in the oxygen lines" before the Parliament.
"As per State Government of Andhra Pradesh's communication dated 9 th August 2021, on 10th May 2021, at Sri Venkateswara Ramnarayan Ruia (SVRR) hospital, some patients who were on ventilator support died while undergoing treatment for COVID-19. As per the preliminary inquiry incident report, it appears that the interval between the leveling out of 10KL oxygen tank and the switching on of the backup manifold system of this hospital resulted in the drop in pressure in the oxygen lines. The drop in the pressure in the oxygen lines led to insufficient oxygen being available for the patients mainly on ventilator support," Minister of State, Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has recently clarified before Rajya Sabha.
The controversy related to the deaths due to oxygen shortage had erupted a few weeks ago when the Centre had claimed before the Parliament that there were no recorded deaths for shortage of oxygen in India.
Medical Dialogues had earlier reported that the Minister of State for Health Bharati Pravin Pawar, while replying to a question by AICC General Secretary K C Venugopal, had stated before the Parliament that no deaths due to lack of oxygen were "specifically reported" by states and union territories during the second Covid-19 wave that hit the country.
Supporting the claim, the Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare Department, Shri Mansukh Mandaviya, while replying to a question-related to the shortage of essential medical services during second wave of Covid-19, also stated that the Health Ministry didn't receive any report from any State/UT related to the death of patients due to lack of oxygens.
Following such claims on the part of the Central Government, several State Governments including Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, and Madhya Pradesh also started supporting the stand.
While oppositions including the Indian National Congress, BSP started slamming the Union Government alleging that such a claim on the part of the Government was untrue and lacked sensitivity.
With this, the Centre recently had sought from states and Union Territories data on deaths in connection with oxygen shortage during the second of COVID-19 earlier this year and the information was to be collated and presented in Parliament before the Monsoon session ends on August 13, official sources had said.
According to sources, 13 states and UTs including Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Odisha, Uttarakhand, Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh, Jharkhand, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab have responded.
They said only Punjab has reported four "suspected" deaths due to oxygen shortage.
However, not naming the State, Mr. Agarwal has recently told the media that "When the question was raised in Parliament, states were specifically asked this question and as per reports received only one state mentioned suspected death and no state has so far said that there were deaths because of oxygen shortage."
Agarwal said the whole country faced a one of its kind challenge related to oxygen, and while the availability was 2,000-3,000 metric tonnes, it rose to 9,000 metric tonnes.
It was seen how the people, states and the Centre connected at all levels to increase the medical oxygen supply, he said.
"We used industrial oxygen for medical oxygen usage, we provided oxygen concentrator, progressed PSA plants and also used Railways and Navy for oxygen transportation. We faced a very big challenge," he said.
Meanwhile, MoS Health Dr. Bharati Pravin Pawar has also informed the Rajya Sabha on August 10 that some patients in Andhra Pradesh had died due to the drop in pressure in the oxygen lines. "The drop in the pressure in the oxygen lines led to insufficient oxygen being available for the patients mainly on ventilator support," stated the Minister.
Responding to a question on whether a large number of COVID-19 patients died on roads and hospitals due to acute shortage of oxygen in the second wave, Minister of State for Health Bharati Praveen Pawar on July 20 in a written reply in Rajya Sabha had said that health is a state subject.
"Detailed guidelines for reporting of deaths have been issued by the Union Health Ministry to all states and UTs. Accordingly, all states and UTs report cases and deaths to the Union Health Ministry on a regular basis. However, no deaths due to lack of oxygen has been specifically reported by states and UTs," Pawar had said.
M.A in English
Barsha completed her Master's in English from the University of Burdwan, West Bengal in 2018. Having a knack for Journalism she joined Medical Dialogues back in 2020. She mainly covers news about medico legal cases, NMC/DCI updates, medical education issues including the latest updates about medical and dental colleges in India. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.