Eight COVID-19 patients admitted to the Hindupur District Hospital in Andhra Pradesh died on Monday, and their families have alleged that their deaths were caused by problems in oxygen supply. Health Department authorities however, have denied these allegations, claiming that there was adequate supply of oxygen at the hospital located in Anantapur district.
In the early hours of Monday morning, caregivers who claimed to have noticed a fall in oxygen supply scrambled to replace the depleting oxygen cylinders with filled ones that were on standby, The New Indian Express reported. The caregivers alleged that hospital staff were indifferent and refused to help them. Some relatives of patients told the media that hospital authorities did not heed their complaints when they pointed out that the oxygen supply was going down, and that they had to replace the cylinders on their own. They alleged that the patients had died due to oxygen shortage.
Hindupur District Hospital Superintendent Diwakar admitted to the media that there was shortage of oxygen supply for a brief period on Monday morning. However, he claimed that the supply was restored instantly and said that the patients who died were already in a serious condition and might have panicked at the time of shortage. â€śWe have over 200 COVID-19 patients. The oxygen tanker has been coming in for filling on a daily basis. As cases rise, our oxygen consumption has also been increasing. Today, around 5.30 am, we had an oxygen shortage. As we had cylinders in stock, we were able to restore them instantly. Some of the patients who were in bad condition panicked suddenly. In two and half hoursâ€™ span, eight people died. All of them didnâ€™t die due to oxygen shortage. Their condition was already serious,â€ť he said.
According to Deccan Chronicle, Health Minister Alla Kali Krishna Srinivas (Nani) has denied that a snag in oxygen supply caused the deaths. Commenting on the incident, Hindupur MLA and TDP leader Nandamuri Balakrishna expressed condolences to the families of the deceased. He demanded that the government provide an ex-gratia of Rs 25 lakh to the families. TDP General Secretary and MLC Nara Lokesh demanded an inquiry into the incident and said that action must be taken against those responsible for the deaths.
In a similar incident, on May 1, 11 COVID-19 patients died in the same district, at the Anantapur GGH (Government General Hospital). While relatives alleged that an interruption in oxygen supply caused the deaths, officials denied the allegations, saying that the patients had all died due to COVID-19 complications.