A day after the Delhi Police told a court that the deaths of 21 coronavirus patients in the national capital's Jaipur Golden Hospital were not due to oxygen shortage, the families of the victims accused the authorities of trying to "whitewash" the matter and demanded a fair probe into it.
Erick Massey, whose mother Delphin Massey died at the Jaipur Golden Hospital allegedly due to oxygen shortage, said the hospital director had clearly mentioned that they did not receive oxygen.
"The Centre had recently said that there were no deaths due to lack of oxygen that was specifically reported by states and union territories during the second wave of coronavirus. They are fooling us. The death summaries mention respiratory failure or cardiac arrest. It's written in a technical language. We are demanding a proper investigation," he said.
The hospital had clearly said they were operating on reserves, Mr Massey said, adding that it meant oxygen pressure was low and people on ventilators would not have survived on low oxygen pressure, he said.
Erick Massey also said that the hospital had told the police that the average mortality rate per day before and after the incident was only two and three, respectively, which increased to 21 within a span of seven to eight hours.
"I don't think 21 patients have died in any hospital across India due to natural causes during the entire pandemic. It seems like a cover-up," he said.
Jagjyot Singh's mother Sarabjeet Kaur was one of the 21 casualties when the Jaipur Golden Hospital waited for its oxygen stock to be replenished on April 24.
"It looks like a drama. They are fooling us. How the deaths happened should be investigated. We are not able to sleep at night. My mother has been murdered by the hospital. They are trying to blame everything on protocols," he said.
Navya Awasthi, whose mother Seema Awasthi died at the hospital, said that this showed how the government was "more concerned about whitewashing" than about the plight of people.
"The hospital is saying that they had to resort to reserves, yet there is no death due to oxygen shortage. Aren't these two statements contradictory? It is very easy to pass the buck. Whenever any committee looks at the reports, they will just show the records that say cardiac arrest or respiratory failure was the cause of the death. But what led to the cardiac arrest or respiratory failure of 21 patients," she questioned.
Navya Awasthi claimed that Medical Director Dr DK Baluja had stated that he cannot deny oxygen shortage played a role in the deaths of the patients.
"Even in Goa, where 74 people died allegedly due to oxygen shortage, the government took a u-turn," she said.
The Delhi Police told a city court on Tuesday that the death of 21 COVID-19 patients in Jaipur Golden Hospital in April was not caused due to the shortage of oxygen, a claim which contradicts the hospital's stand.
In the same status filed by the police before the court, the hospital has stated that there was a link between inadequate oxygen supply and deaths of the patients as no oxygen was supplied to them for 30 hours despite several SOS alerts.
As many as 21 in-patients died at the hospital on the intervening night of April 23-24 allegedly due to the lack of oxygen as it waited for the supply to be replenished.
"On scrutiny of death summaries of all deceased persons, it revealed that no death of any patient was caused due to shortage of oxygen," the police stated in the status report on a plea seeking FIR against the hospital for deaths.