This Article is From Jul 27, 2021

Centre Asks States For Data On Oxygen Deaths During Covid Second Wave: Sources

The data on oxygen-related deaths will be collated and presented in Parliament before the monsoon session ends on August 13, sources have said.

During the second Covid wave earlier this year, India suffered a huge deficit in oxygen supply.

New Delhi:

The government of India has asked the states and Union Territories to provide data on deaths related to oxygen shortage during the second Covid wave earlier this year. The information will be collated and presented in Parliament before the monsoon session ends on August 13, sources have said.

A surge in infections across India earlier this year put immense pressure on the country's health infrastructure. Critical supplies such as those of hospital beds, drugs, and vaccines fell woefully short.

Among these, the most devastating was the shortage of medical oxygen. Such was the shortfall that India had to import the vital gas from several countries on an emergency basis. Several people died breathless.

In Goa, over 80 people died at a state-run medical facility over five days in May. In Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh, 11 Covid patients admitted to the ICU of a hospital lost their lives after supply was disrupted. At a Hyderabad facility, seven succumbed at a government hospital during a two-hour cut in supply.

Several states went to court over oxygen sharing, while the government flagged off Oxygen Express trains to ensure supplies.

Last month the Centre even vetoed an investigation ordered by the Delhi government into the deaths caused by a lack of oxygen supply. At one hospital in Delhi, 21 patients died due to oxygen shortage and the matter is pending in the High Court.

However, despite all those headline-making events, the Centre told Parliament earlier this month that "no deaths due to lack of oxygen have been specifically reported by states and Union Territories". It said the states had not provided any data on this front.

Health is a state subject and states and Union Territories regularly report numbers to the Centre, which only collates them and presents them before the nation, Bharati Praveen Pawar, the Minister of State for Health, told the Rajya Sabha in a written reply.

"This is a blind and unconcerned government. People have seen how many of their near and dear ones have died because of lack of oxygen," Congress leader KC Venugopal had said in response.