The Centre on Tuesday informed Parliament that confirmed death due to oxygen shortage has not been reported by any state or union territory although over 5.21 lakh fatalities due to COVID-19 have been recorded in India.
It told the Rajya Sabha that it had asked states to provide details of people who have died because of shortage of oxygen.
"As on April 4, 2022, states/UTs have reported a total of 5,21,358 deaths due to COVID-19 in the country," Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare Bharati Pravin Pawar told the Upper House. Replying to supplementaries during the Question Hour, she said, "Twenty states/UTs have responded and none of these have reported confirmed death due to oxygen shortage." She said that some states are even now updating and reporting deaths due to COVID-19 on the ministry's web portal.
To a query by Congress MP Shaktisinh Gohil that the government had promised Rs 4 lakh as compensation for Covid deaths and why this money was not being given, Ms Bharati said the government has issued guidelines transparently.
She said arrangements had been made to protect and take care of patients through insurance schemes for poor patients.
The minister also said ex gratia payments had been examined at central, state and district levels and it has been determined that the amount to be given is not Rs 4 lakh.
"An ex gratia of Rs 50,000 as per central, state and district levels. The NDMA has proposed Rs 50,000 compensation and not Rs 4 lakh for each victim of COVID-19," she told the House.
The minister also said that during COVID-19, the government has taken a number of measures and a budget of Rs 64,000 crore has been sanctioned for strengthening health infrastructure.
"So far we have 300 plus laboratories, over five lakh oxygen-supported beds, 1.5 lakh ICU beds, over 4,000 PSA plants, over 60,000 ventilators and all emergency facilities have been upgraded." Pawar also said that a new bio-safety level (BSL)-3 mobile laboratory is also being added for detection of new strains and viruses.
In a written reply, Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said that over 180 technical guidelines/ advisories/ SoPs/ plans have been issued to states and Union Territories by his ministry.
This includes technical guidance on issues ranging from surveillance and containment of COVID-19, travel advisories, clinical management protocols for managing COVID-19 cases in adults and children, rational use of medical oxygen, SOPs for safe resumption of activities in workplaces, markets, religious places among others. According to him, to address the surge in demand for medical oxygen, the Union government had supported the states in terms of increasing the availability, streamlining the distribution and strengthening the oxygen storage infrastructure in the country.
As of April 4, 2022, as many as 4,055 pressure swing adsorption (PSA) plants have been commissioned in the country.
This includes PSA plants under PM-CARES, PSUs of various Central Ministries, and other sources to enhance capacity of medical oxygen production and supply at the facility level. In another written response, Mandaviya said that as on 30 March 2022, a total of 79.28 crore (84.4 per cent) beneficiaries aged 18 years and above have received both doses of COVID-19 vaccines.
"As on March 30, 2022, a total of 167.14 crore doses (97 per cent of total dose administered) have been administered free of charge to eligible beneficiaries aged 18 years and above under National COVID-19 vaccination programme," he stated. As on March 30, an estimated 2.6 crore (2.8 per cent) eligible beneficiaries above 18 years of age have not taken even single dose of vaccine. Also, against the estimated population of about 7.40 crore beneficiaries aged 15-18 years, 5.70 crore (77 per cent) have received at least one dose, 3.77 crore (51 per cent) beneficiaries have received both dose of Covid vaccines.
"As on March 30, against the estimated population of 4.7 crore beneficiaries aged 12-14 years, a total of 1.51 crore (32 per cent) have received the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine. The second dose for any of such beneficiaries has not become due," Mandaviya stated.