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Goa still gasps for oxygen, 13 deaths raise toll to 75

Saturday, 15 May 2021 | PNS | New Delhi

The horror at the Goa Medical College and Hospital (GMCH), the State’s largest Covid-19 facility, continued as oxygen shortage killed 13 more Covid-19 patients in the dark hours (between 1 am and 6 am) of Friday, taking the tally to 75 in the last four days.

As per the State Government statistics, 26 patients died at the GMCH during the wee hours of Tuesday, followed by 21 on Wednesday, 15 on Thursday, and 13 on Friday (total 75).

Even as hospitals in Goa see a surge in Covid-19 cases, the scenes at crematoriums in the coastal State are equally grim as bodies continue to line up for last rites. Goa’s coronavirus caseload rose to 1,32,585 after 2,455 patients tested positive for the infection on Friday.

According to a resident doctor of GMCH wards, pressure in the central pipeline started falling around 1 am on Thursday, and three patients in his ward succumbed to the fluctuations, despite their attempts to revive them.

“Relatives called us frantically saying patients were gasping for breath and their saturation levels (SPO2) had dropped to 40-50,” the resident doctor said, adding, on the night of Wednesday-Thursday, there was a drop in oxygen pressure at least five to six times.

A three-member panel has been formed under the chairmanship of Indian Institute of Technology-Goa director Dr BK Mishra. The  committee will find out whether the oxygen supplied to the medical facility was adequate and check the efficiency of the supply chain. The panel will also examine how oxygen was administered in the hospital and suggest ways for its improvement.

 The committee has been asked to complete the probe in three days.

The State  Government has told the High Court that there were “logistic issues” related to supply of medical oxygen to patients.

Chief Minister Pramod Sawant  said the gap between the “availability of medical oxygen and its supply to Covid-19 wards” at the hospital “might have caused some issues for the patients”.

 He, however, claimed that there was no shortage of oxygen. Sawant’s claim was contradictory to State Health Minister Vishwajit Rane, who had admitted that there was a shortage of oxygen at the hospital as of Monday.

Goa Congress is set to file a criminal case claiming “cold-blooded murder by the Chief Minister and Health Minister”. The party has slammed the “…clear-cut admission by Goa’s BJP Government before the High Court of Bombay at Goa that 41 deaths occurred due to shortage of oxygen…”

On Thursday, the Goa Bench of the Bombay High Court said it was informed that some patients may have died because of “logistical issues”. The Goa Government had told the HC on Thursday that during the process of attaching the oxygen manifold there was some interruption, which results in a fall of pressure in the supply lines of oxygen to patients.

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