At least 23 COVID-19 patients had died at the Ruia Government General Hospital in Tirupati on May 10, 2021.

Workers at an oxygen filling station at Gauhati Medical College and Hospital Image for representation/PTI
news Coronavirus Sunday, August 08, 2021 - 16:50

The Andhra Pradesh government told the High Court on Saturday, August  7, that delayed response from the medical oxygen supplier led to the death of at least 23 COVID-19 patients at the Ruia Government General Hospital in Tirupati. In an affidavit filed on behalf of the state government, Principal Secretary (Health) Anil Kumar Singhal stated that negligence on the part of the contractor Shree Bharat Pharma and Medical Oxygen Distributors, the liquid medical oxygen supplier to the hospital, had resulted in the deaths of COVID-19 patients who were on ventilator support on May 10,  2021. The affidavit also mentioned that an FIR has been lodged against the supplier in this regard. 

TNM had earlier reported on the police complaint filed at the Alipiri Police Station in Tirupati, by the Superintendent of Ruia Hospital against the oxygen supplier. According to the police complaint, a preliminary enquiry conducted by the Chittoor District Collector M Hari Narayanan found that the supplier had delayed providing oxygen from Tamil Nadu on time even though an alert was raised, that it had failed to maintain the emergency backup manifold system, and that the alarm system meant to sound an alert in case of drop in oxygen pressure was not functional. These allegations were reiterated in the affidavit, which was submitted to the Andhra Pradesh High Court along with reports from Chittoor District Collector and Ruia hospital authorities, The New Indian Express reported. 

Immediately after the tragedy occurred, Chittoor District Collector told the media that 11 patients had died due to a drop in oxygen pressure. However, the hospital authorities later revealed that another 12 patients lost their lives within a few hours, due to complications resulting from the disruption in oxygen supply. TDP leader PR Mohan filed a PIL seeking action against those responsible for the patients’ deaths. Hearing the petition earlier on July 13, a High Court bench had asked the government to file a detailed affidavit. The FIR was filed based on a complaint to the police dated July 23. 

Read: No oxygen deaths in India? AP hospital’s complaint shows Union govt’s claim is hollow

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