4 Covid Patients Die In Madhya Pradesh After Oxygen Cylinder Shortage

As many as 15 districts in Madhya Pradesh, including Indore and Bhopal, supplement the local supply of oxygen cylinders with units from Maharashtra

A part of Madhya Pradesh's supply of oxygen cylinders come from Maharashtra

Bhopal:

Four coronavirus patients died at a hospital in Madhya Pradesh's Dewas district, and several others were left with inadequate levels of oxygen for nearly seven hours on Wednesday, after Maharashtra - from where a percentage of the state's store of oxygen is purchased - limited that supply.

The Amaltas Institute of Medical Sciences - a private hospital designated as a Covid care centre by the state government - placed its patients on non-invasive ventilators to provide them with low amounts of oxygen, but four died.

The government has admitted to a problem with the supply of oxygen, but has also insisted that the deaths had nothing to do with that issue.

"We made an inquiry. They (Amaltas Hospital) have 400 cylinders and they use almost 200 on a daily basis. On Tuesday night, however, there was some problem loading the vehicle in Bhopal (which is around 160 km away), which led to some miscommunication. That is why there was a crisis," Dr MP Sharma, Chief Medical Officer (Dewas), said.

"The deaths are not related to (the problem with) oxygen supply," he added.

However, a similar "miscommunication" appeared to strike other districts in the state, such as Gwalior, Bhind, Shivpuri and Jabalpur. It later transpired that neighbouring Maharashtra had limited the supply of oxygen cylinders.

As many as 15 districts in Madhya Pradesh, including Indore and Bhopal, supplement the local supply of oxygen cylinders with units from Maharashtra.

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, who was discharged from hospital last month after recovering from Covid, said Thursday that he had raised the issue with his Maharashtra counterpart Uddhav Thackeray.

"The shortage of oxygen was worrying me a lot. I spoke to Uddhav Thackeray and requested him not to stop the supply at this difficult time. He has assured me that (although) Maharashtra is (also) facing some problems... he will try and ensure oxygen supply to Madhya Pradesh continues," Mr Chouhan said.

The Chief Minister also said "alternate arrangements" had been made.

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"Madhya Pradesh has oxygen production capacity of 50 tonnes. This was increased to 120 tonnes. We will take it 150 tonnes by September 30," he said.

Mr Chouhan also said a company called INOX, which supplied oxygen from a plant in Maharashtra's Nagpur, would supplement its production with inputs from its plants in Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh.

"As part of our long-term planning we have given a green light to INOX to set up an oxygen plant, with an installed capacity of 200 tonnes, in Hoshangabad district in the next six months," he explained.

In July Madhya Pradesh consumed 40 tonnes of oxygen. The requirement jumped to 90 tonnes in August. The state's own supply is around 44.5 tonnes.

The opposition has alleged this is a failure of governance.

Congress spokesperson Bhupendra Gupta alleged the government was not worried and that it was only concerned about its future. "Even the public knows oxygen is needed but the government is careless," he declared.

The government has set itself a target to scale up medical infrastructure in the state, where over 80,000 Covid cases have been confirmed.

"Medical colleges will triple their capacity by October - to 3,600 oxygen beds and 564 ICU beds. It is (also) obvious that more oxygen will be needed, " Vishwas Sarang, the Medical Education Minister, said.