Karnataka govt orders probe after oxygen shortage leads to 24 deaths at govt hospital

The probe will be headed by IAS officer and KSRTC MD Shivayogi Kalasad, and the report is to be submitted in three days.
A health worker dressed in PPE standing and holding up an oxygen cylinder
A health worker dressed in PPE standing and holding up an oxygen cylinder
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The government of Karnataka has ordered a probe after 24 COVID-19 patients died due to interruption of medical oxygen supply at the Chamarajanagar Institute of Medical Sciences (CIMS) in Karnataka's Chamarajanagar district. The government has appointed IAS officer Shivayogi Kalasad, who is the Managing Director of Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC), as the inquiry officer to probe the incident. The government, which said that the incident was a matter of serious concern, has asked for a report in three days. 

Dr DM Sanjeev, Director of CIMS, had told TNM earlier in the day that due to a shortage of oxygen between 12 am to 2 am, 24 patients who were on ventilators and needed high flow oxygen have died. “Out of the 24 persons who have died, 18 were suffering from comorbidities and had long-standing problems. Right now we are requiring 350 cylinders a day, an increase from 35-40 cylinders daily, and our vendors are not able to match the increase in demand. We faced a major shortage due to delay in supply affected by the widespread increase in demand,” Dr Sanjeev told TNM. He added that 50 cylinders that were sent at midnight as a response to a distress call were not enough to sustain the high pressure required for critical patients.

Dr Sanjeev also said that the hospital depends on liquid oxygen supply from either Ballari or Bengaluru as these are the only two places with facilities to manufacture oxygen. “But even for refilling cylinders, we have to depend on private vendors from Mysuru. This issue can be solved if we have a bottling plant in our district itself and don't have to depend on Mysuru or other districts for refilling,” he added. 

The Congress has demanded the resignation of the Karnataka health minister. Congress MP from Wayanad Rahul Gandhi took to Twitter to slam the government.

Sharing an image of a news report about the incident, Rahul wrote on Twitter, "Died or Killed? My heartfelt condolences to their families. How much more suffering before the 'system' wakes up?” Gandhi also lashed out at the Central government over the pace of the COVID-19 vaccination drive and alleged policy paralysis on its part, a charge that the Manmohan Singh-led UPA government faced from the BJP. "A policy paralysed GOI cannot secure victory over the virus. Face it. Don't fake it," Gandhi tweeted, sharing a media report that the Centre is yet to place a fresh vaccine order.

Congress general secretary Randeep Surjewala also hit out at the BS Yediyurappa government for the death of patients at the hospital due to lack of oxygen.

“This is murder by designed negligence of Yediyurappa Govt! Health Minister must resign,” he said. "Will CM Yediyurappa ji own moral responsibility for the deaths," Surjewala added.

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