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Saturday, June 19, 2021

COVID-19: 26 Die Of Oxygen Shortage In 4 Hours At Goa Hospital

Health Minister Seeks An Investigation By The High Court To Find Out The Cause Of The Mishap

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Raju Vernekar
Raju Vernekar
I am a mumbai based journalist having worked with many daily newspapers.

INDIA. Mumbai: While mishaps related to the shortage of medical oxygen are being reported from different parts of the country, Goa Health Minister Vishwajit Rane said that 26 COVID-19 patients died at the state-run Goa Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) at Bambolim, in the early hours of Tuesday and sought an investigation by the High Court to find out the exact cause.

In a statement, Rane said these fatalities occurred between 2 am and 6 am and there was a 50 percent shortfall in the gas supply at the Goa Medical College and Hospital as of Monday. “The high court should investigate the reasons behind these deaths. The court should also prepare a white paper on oxygen supply to the GMCH, which would help to set the things right” Rane said adding that the medical oxygen requirement of the facility as of Monday was 1,200 jumbo cylinders of which only 400 were supplied. A discussion should be held about how to bridge that gap. Rane said a three-member team of nodal officers set up by the state government to oversee COVID-19 treatment at GMCH should give its inputs about the issues to the Chief Minister.

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The hospital, which is dealing with patients up to three times its bed capacity, has two means of supplying oxygen. Those who have beds get oxygen through the central piping system, while those who are being treated on stretchers or are made to rest on the floor are given oxygen supply through cylinders that need to be replaced and refilled as soon as one runs out. However, the hospital has not had the manpower to ensure that the cylinder is replaced on time, leading to a drop in oxygen levels especially during the night hours, he added.

Earlier in the day, Goa Chief Minister Dr. Pramod Sawant wore a PPE kit and visited the COVID-19 wards at Goa Medical College and Hospital and met patients and their relatives. Later speaking to electronic media, Sawant, said the gap between the “availability of medical oxygen and its supply to COVID-19 wards in the GMCH might have caused some issues for the patients. There is no scarcity of oxygen supply in the state and the administration has to be streamlined. There is some mismanagement. The cylinders have to be taken to the wards. There needs to be a person in charge. This cannot be left to nurses. Oxygen is there, but it doesn’t reach the wards/patients. We will streamline the process. We will allocate work properly”.

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Chief Minister Dr. Pramod Sawant took to Twitter and said “ Visited #COVID19 wards in GMC today to inquire about the well-being of the patients, our medical team and also to understand the shortcomings in the facilities. Our Doctors and Healthcare workers are doing their best on the frontline. Will be holding a meeting with the medical and administrative team to resolve all the issues and to ensure that everyone gets necessary facilities”.

However, Sawant did not respond to a query by the “Transcontinental Times” whether the next of the kin of the deceased patients will be given any compensation by the state government.

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MLA Vijay Sardesai (President, Goa Forward Party) told the “Transcontinental Times” that there is a substance in the Health Minister Vishwanath Rane’s allegations of gas shortage and lack of medical facilities. Our Vice-President Durgadas Kamat has filed a petition in the Bombay High Court seeking detailed information about the availability of beds, medical oxygen, and vaccine dosages. The petition will come up for hearing on Wednesday.

In another development, a minor oxygen leakage occurred at the South Goa district hospital (SGDH) in Margao on Tuesday afternoon when the gas was being filled in the main storage tank on the campus from a tanker. But there was no casualty. The SGDH is one of the biggest state-run facilities in treating COVID-19 patients. District officials who rushed to the spot said a report on the causes behind the incident will be submitted to the state government. 

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