13 more Covid patients die at Goa hospital after oxygen glitch during ‘dark hours’
Thirteen more Covid-19 patients died at the Goa Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) in the early hours of Friday, taking to 75 the number of people who have succumbed at the government-run facility in the last four days.
A senior health department official’s statement confirmed that the horror at the GMCH was continuing even as the Goa bench of Bombay High Court was hearing petitions on deaths during the "dark hours" at the premier hospital.
While the state government has not revealed the exact cause of the deaths at the GMCH, it has told the high court that there were "logistics issues" related to supply of medical oxygen to patients.
On Thursday, advocate general Devidas Pangam had told a bench of Justices Nitin Sambre and Mahesh Sonak that there were “logistical issues involved in manoeuvring the tractor which carries the trolleys of oxygen and in connecting the cylinders to the manifold (group of large gas cylinders)."
The senior official confirmed that 13 more patients, admitted in various Covid-19 wards at GMCH, died during the early hours of Friday. The number of patients who have died during the "dark hours (between 2 am and 6 am) at the hospital has touched 75 in the last four days.
As per state government statistics, 26 patients had died at the GMCH during the wee hours of Tuesday, followed by 21 on Wednesday, 15 on Thursday and 13 on Friday (total 75).
The high court is hearing a bunch of petitions on recent deaths of Covid-19 patients at the GMCH allegedly due to lack of medical oxygen.
The Goa government had told the court on Thursday that during the process of “attaching the oxygen manifold there was some interruption, which results in a fall of pressure in the supply lines of oxygen to patients."
"We were explained that during this process there was some interruption, which resulted in a fall of pressure in the supply lines of oxygen to the patients. It was pointed out that it is basically on account of these factors some casualties may have taken place," the bench had said.
"We expect the state administration to find out ways and means to overcome these logistical issues so that precious life is not lost on account of any deficiencies in the matter of supply of oxygen to patients," the HC said.
The Opposition has reacted strongly to these deaths, with the Goa Forward Party filing a police complaint against chief minister Pramod Sawant, and senior government officers on Friday, reports ndtv.com.
The complaint alleged gross and reckless acts of negligence and deliberate omission of duty _ referring to the interruption of oxygen supply _ that led to the deaths of several Covid patients, the news website said quoting news agency ANI.
Reacting to the deaths, Goa Forward Party president Vijai Sardesai said the high court should "take over the affairs of the state as there is a collapse of governance".
The state unit of the Congress is also set to file a criminal case. The party has slammed the "...clear-cut admission by Goa's BJP government before the High Court of Bombay at Goa that 41 deaths occurred due to shortage of oxygen...", and said the chief minister was "incompetent and defective".
Chief minister Sawant, who visited GMCH on Tuesday, said the gap between the “availability of medical oxygen and its supply might have caused some issues.”
He also stressed that there was no scarcity of oxygen supply in the state.
However, also on Tuesday, Goa Health Minister Vishwajit Rane told reporters there was a shortfall in supply of medical oxygen as of the previous day, i.e., Monday.
Mr Rane sought a probe by the High Court, which is already hearing petitions on the state government's management of the pandemic, and asked it to "prepare a white paper on oxygen supply".
At 48.1 per cent, Goa has the highest positivity rate of Covid testing in the country as of Thursday evening. This means every second Coivd-19 test is returning a positive result.
On Friday morning, the state reported 2,491 new cases and 62 deaths in 24 hours, to take its active caseload to nearly 33,000 and total number of deaths to nearly 2,000.