Six patients died at a private hospital in Punjab’s Amritsar this morning allegedly due to oxygen shortage. As the families alleged that ventilators had run out of oxygen, officials blamed the district administration for giving priority to state-run hospitals amid Covid crisis.
Five patients who died at Amritsar’s Neelkanth Multispecialty Hospital this morning were being treated for coronavirus.
“We have been sending appeals repeatedly to the state government. Hospitals where there are no Covid patients have surplus oxygen supply. Over the last 48 hours, we have used all our resources. We have reached out for help to everybody we could. But if the government doesn’t want to help, should private hospitals shut down? Where should we go?” Dr Sunil Devgan, Managing Director of Neelkanth Hospital, told reporters.
Punjab Health Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu said the state will launch a probe into the death of the patients. “We will probe these deaths. Also, we will take action against those who are involved in illegal supply of medical oxygen. Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and has made an appeal to increase the oxygen supply to the state as Covid infections soar,” he told reporters.
Health Secretary Hussan Lal said: “We are probing whether the deaths were due to oxygen shortage, and also who all were contacted by the private hospital amid the crisis. The district administration is having its own group for ensuring oxygen supply so we will fix accountability.”
Punjab has been tackling with a surge in Covid cases over the last few weeks. The state logged over 6,700 fresh cases in the last 24 hours as India recorded its biggest single-day spike of 3.46 lakh cases, taking the caseload to 1.66 crore.
Shortage of medical oxygen has emerged as one of the biggest challenges in the last few days in India’s fight against coronavirus. Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday held a meeting with chief ministers of 10 worst-hit states. He urged all states to ensure that tankers carrying oxygen to other states must not be stopped or delayed.
In Delhi, the High Court today heard a petition by a hospital over the issue. Similar petitions have also come up in Supreme Court and five other high courts across the country in the last few days.