26 die of oxygen shortage at Goa hospital; CM blames dearth of oxygen truck drivers

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Goa Cm Pramod Sawant.

Lack of expert drivers manning trucks ferrying oxygen has led to the oxygen shortage crisis in Goa’s top hospital, Goa Medical College, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant said on Tuesday, even as Health Minister Vishwajit Rane claimed that 26 persons died within four hours due to shortage of oxygen at the apex health facility.

Rane, who has been at loggerheads with Sawant over control of the state’s Covid management apparatus, has now urged the Bombay High Court to probe the oxygen shortage issue at the Goa Medical College and take over the Covid management system at the health facility.

Earlier on Tuesday, Rane said that 26 patients admitted to a Covid ward at the hospital, had died between 2 am and 6 am on Tuesday morning.
“I request the High Court to check if there is mismanagement or shortage and bring out a white paper using experts… High Court should take over Covid management of GMC,” Rane said, adding that the key issue was not mismanagement, but shortage of oxygen which led to the deaths. “We need 1,200 (jumbo) cylinders, but yesterday we got only 400,” Rane also said.

Sawant on Tuesday morning visited the Covid ward, which witnessed the more than two dozen fatalities, insisted that it was not oxygen shortage which led to the deaths. The cause of deaths Sawant claimed was because oxygen tanks could not reach the patients in time.

Sawant also met patients and relatives of admitted patients at the Covid ward, who complained about regular drop in oxygen supply through nights.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday evening, after a meeting with GMC officials, Sawant said that lack of expert drivers had led to irregular oxygen flow to the health facility.

“Once oxygen cylinders arrive here, they does not reach (the wards). This was a priority issue,” Sawant said.

“Four expert drivers and tractors (to ferry oxygen cylinders) will be brought tomorrow, after that the pressure will not drop,” the CM said.

Sawant also said that 200 additional oxygen cylinders would be provided to the 400 already being supplied to GMC everyday and said that a 20 ton liquid oxygen tank would also be made available within “eight to ten days” to tide over the crisis.

The Chief Minister also said that the hospital’s main oxygen provider, Scoop Industries private limited, should take responsibility for not being able to tackle the supply crisis at the top government health facility and warned that the government would not hesitate taking over the oxygen manufacturing unit, using pandemic related laws.

“Scoop (industries) should take responsibility. It is a 10-year contract (to supply oxygen). He cannot pass the buck to the government. The government has supported (Scoop) in every possible way. We can take over anything… If (Scoop) creates a problem. I will not tolerate it,” Sawant said.

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