INDIA. New Delhi: More than 700 deaths are recorded in Varanasi with around 13000 active cases due to COVID-19 so far. Cremation grounds in the holy city of India is witnessing more than 100 cremations a day. With the current upsurge in COVID-19 cases, medical facilities, diagnostic centers are facing huge backlogs. In this grave situation, medical professionals are working under immense pressure. Amidst this crisis, Yogi government doesn’t seem to be acknowledging the crisis. Prime Minister Modi, who also represents Varanasi as a member of parliament in Lok Sabha, has not paid any visit to his constituency since November 2020. Whereas his active participation in political rallies in West Bengal and huge crowd pulled by his charisma has been the talk of the nation for a while. Varanasi is in chaos, people are reaching out to the city from neighboring districts and rural areas in search of better health infrastructure, diagnosis and availability of medicines. Unfortunately, the hopes are being killed for many as soon as they encounter the ground reality.
Current status of local hospitals in Varanasi
An attendant at Heritage Hospital Varanasi confirmed that the unavailability of beds and oxygen is turning into a major crisis on-ground and they are receiving more than 150-200 calls every day enquiring about beds’ availability.
Another private hospital, Popular Hospital, confirmed the availability of bed and agreed to admit the patient only if the oxygen level is above 75. On asked about the availability of oxygen, the attendant responded saying they have their own plant.
When we tried finding out the situation at Trimurti Hospital in Varanasi, the attendant denied the admission for patients who are asymptomatic but facing breathlessness. She clearly stated that there are no beds available and even denied to share the total number of beds available at the hospital. On enquiring about doctors (Dr. Manoj Gupta and Dr. Ram Murti Singh), she confirmed that there are no doctors available in the hospital.
Galaxy hospital informed that they have 21 beds for Cvoid-19 patients and currently all are full. They can’t even provide oxygen support to the patients due to unavailability of beds. An attendant asked to call their biomedical division at +91-6388952310. We tried connecting several times but received no response.
Vinay Kumar, Manger on duty at Ramkrishna Care Hospitals asked us to share the patient details along with their oxygen level and Aadhar card at +91-9755091927. Once the information is shared, he will check with the management about the availability of bed and respond.
A senior doctor from one of the biggest private hospitals in Varanasi, who requested not to be quoted, expressed his anger on the current situation of Oxygen crisis. He pointed out that they have to deal with government’s pressure on hiding the ground issues which is hampering patients’ treatment, risking their lives.
Medicines and testing facilities in Varanasi
A local pharmacist of Varanasi revealed that there is a shortage of basic medicines like paracetamol. People suffering from normal fever and cold are also facing difficulty to source these basic medicines. Another medical practitioner confirmed that they are receiving several calls from people requesting to help them arrange for oxygen. They are also dealing with local political goons and people coming with their political references who pressurize to arrange medicines and other medical facilities for them on priority.
With around 400 beds reserved for COVID-19 patients in the super-specialty ward, Sir Sunderlal Hospital is the biggest COVID-19 treatment centre in Varanasi. However, there are no beds available as of today but a long waiting list. The hospital has a capacity of 10000 RT-PCR tests but only around 7000 tests are performed.
Several news platforms have reported that doctors are facing lack of medical supplies across the state. People are bringing their patients from other districts to Varanasi hoping to receive medical assistance.
Politicians lacking morality
As reported by Telegraph India, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath (or Ajay Bisht) clearly warned that action must be taken against hospitals flagging the issue of oxygen crisis by putting up notices saying they had no oxygen and the patients are urged to be shifted elsewhere.
Yogi recently urged his officials to get in touch with IIT and other technical institutions to explore the possibility of converting nitrogen to oxygen. This message on Twitter received backlash from many people for obvious reasons.
The government failed to strengthen the medical infrastructure in last one year is now in hurry to cover up for the chaos. Announcements have been made by Yogi government to construct new oxygen plants in Varanasi. If the government can now acknowledge its failure and act immediately to improve the current situation, many lives can still be saved.