The oxygen crisis seems to be spiralling out of control in India.
After 62 Covid patients died at three Delhi hospitals in the past 10 days due to oxygen shortage, 24 more people lost their lives at a government medical facility in the southern state of Karnataka in the small hours of Monday after it allegedly ran out of the life-saving gas.
The deaths occurred at the general hospital in Karnataka's Chamarajanagar district, some 180km from state capital Bengaluru. Officials said that several Covid patients on life support were among the deceased.
Karnataka Health Minister K Sudhakar termed the incident as "unfortunate", but refused to acknowledge that all the deaths were due to the shortage of oxygen.
"What happened in Chamarajanagar is an unfortunate incident. I have discussed this matter with the chief minister. I am heading to Mysuru, Mandya and Chamarajanagar. I will find out how the deaths took place. And all the issues they are facing," he told the local media.
India's main opposition Congress party's leader Rahul Gandhi was quick to slam the federal government for the deaths. "Died or Killed? My heartfelt condolences to their families. How much more suffering before the ‘system’ wakes up?" Gandhi tweeted.
In fact, several hospitals in India, particularly Delhi, are currently facing an acute shortage of oxygen as the country witnesses a ferocious second wave of Covid. In the past 10 days, at least 62 patients have died at three leading Delhi hospitals due to an acute shortage of oxygen.
On May 1, some 12 people, including a Covid-positive doctor, lost their lives at Batra Hospital after it ran out of the life-saving gas.
"Supply came at 1.30pm (a second tanker reached at around 4pm). But we were out of oxygen for 1 hour and 20 mins. By the time supplies came, 12 people, including a doctor, were dead. Most of them were Covid patients on life support," the hospital had said in a statement.
On April 24, Jaipur Golden Hospital, a dedicated Covid medical facility in Delhi, announced the death of 25 Covid patients in 24 hours due to "low-supply oxygen" to critical patients on ventilator.
And a day before, another leading hospital in Delhi also said in a statement that 25 patients lost their lives in 24 hours due to an acute shortage of oxygen. "25 sickest patients have died in the last 24 hours. Oxygen will last another two hours. Major crisis likely. Lives of 60 sickest patients at risk, need urgent intervention," Sir Ganga Ram Hospital had said.
It may also be mentioned here that as many as 24 Covid patients on ventilator at a government hospital in the western state of Maharashtra died some 10 days ago after their oxygen supply ran out following leakage of the life-supporting gas from a tanker. The tanker was brought to Zakir Hussain Municipal Hospital in Nashik district to replenish the cylinders.