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Oxygen shortage: six die in Madhya Pradesh, Bihar hospital chief drops letter bomb


PATNA/BHOPAL: Inadequate supply of oxygen is causing havoc in several places. In Bhopal, six patients died at the Government Medical College Hospital in Shahdol, allegedly due to this reason. In Patna, the superintendent of Nalanda Medical College and Hospital (NMCH) asked to be relieved, saying that the situation is out of his control because of shortage of the life-saving gas.

While unconfirmed reports put the Shahdol tally at 10 deaths, the Medical College and district administration admitted that oxygen pressure was low and six people had died. But they added that low oxygen pressure cannot be blamed for the deaths, saying that they might have happened due to co-morbidities among the highly-critical patients. 

“Report has been sought from the Medical College. Once that is with us, can we say something about the happenings,” said Shahdol divisional commissioner Rajiv Sharma. Hospital dean Dr Milind Shiralkar said experts have been called in to find out the exact cause behind the death of  the six patients.

The kin of the deceased alleged that oxygen supply at the hospital was not enough. “My brother was 31 and recovering from Covid-19 till Saturday night. But at 4 am on Sunday, we were told he was dead. He died due to oxygen shortage,” said Prem Kevlani Dhanpuri, a resident of Shahdol. Feroz Khan, relative of another person who died, said the same. On Saturday, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan had said there is no shortage of oxygen in Madhya Pradesh.

In Patna, Vinod Kumar Singh’s letter to the principal health secretary caused a stir. The NMCH superintendent wrote that the hospital was facing a huge shortage of oxygen. He also said that cylinders of NMCH’s quota were sent to other hospitals. “As result of this, possibility of deaths of dozens of patients is very high. I suspect that action can be taken against me if that happens. I demand to be freed from the additional charge,” he wrote.

The letter caused a flutter as opposition leader Tejashwi Yadav attacked Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. There are 160 Covid-19 beds at NMCH and all are occupied. Late on Saturday, 250 cylinders of oxygen were given to NMCH. It was assured that 250 more would be given shortly.