Karnataka: Congress demands resignation of state health minister K Sudhakar after death of 24 patients at hospital due to oxygen shortage

Bengaluru: Adding to the crisis of spiralling number of Coronavirus cases in Karnataka, 24 Covid-19 patients died due to interruption of medical oxygen supply at the Chamarajanagar Institute of Medical Sciences (CIMS) in Chamarajanagar district on Monday.

The Karnataka government has ordered a probe that will be headed by IAS officer Shivayogi Kalasad and asked for a report in three days.

Dr DM Sanjeev, Director of CIMS, told the media that due to shortage of oxygen between 12 am and 2 am, 24 patients who were on ventilators and needed high flow oxygen died.

“Out of the 24 persons who have died, 18 were suffering from comorbidities and had long-standing problems. Right now, we require 350 cylinders a day, a daily spike of 35 to 40 cylinders, and our vendors are not able to match the increase in demand. We faced a major shortage due to delay in supply affected by the widespread increase in demand,” he said and added that 50 cylinders that were sent at midnight as a response to a distress call were not enough to sustain the high pressure required for critical patients.

Relatives stepped out of the hospital with heart-rending stories. ‘‘My boy had recovered 75%. If there had been even an oxygen cylinder he could have been saved," said Lokesh, a report in NDTV’s news portal said.

Another relative, Rajanna, said he received a distress call from his nephew at midnight. "He called me around 12 o'clock saying there was no oxygen. Please see what you can do. We rushed here immediately but they didn't allow any of us in. When we called again, there was no reply. That meant he was gone. He died because of lack of oxygen," the portal added as it reported the outpouring.

The Congress has demanded the resignation of the Karnataka Health Minister Dr Sudhakar.

Congress MP from Wayanad Rahul Gandhi slammed the Yediyurappa government. "Died or Killed? My heartfelt condolences to their families. How much more suffering before the 'system' wakes up?” Gandhi tweeted. "A policy paralysed GOI cannot secure victory over the virus. Face it. Don't fake it," he said in another tweet, sharing a media report that the Centre is yet to place a fresh vaccine order.

“This is murder by designed negligence of Yediyurappa Govt! Health Minister must resign,” he said. "Will CM Yediyurappa ji own moral responsibility for the deaths," Congress general secretary Randeep Surjewala tweeted.

Meanwhile, distress calls by hospitals in Bengaluru seeking urgent supply of oxygen have increased in the past few days. On Monday, Medax Hospital, a private hospital in Bengaluru, and Rajarajeswari Medical College and Hospital located on Mysuru Road, said their oxygen supplies can last only hours.

“This is to inform you that we are running out of oxygen supply, we are unable to collect oxygen to take care of the patients. We have been informing since 01/05/2021, 6:00 pm. We will shortly run out of oxygen by 03/05/2021 5pm. Kindly arrange for beds in different hospitals. We regret this situation. And request you to co-operate in view of patient well-being,” Dr Srihari Shapur, Medical Director of the hospital, said in a letter.

By evening, Shifa Hospital in Bengaluru had rushed some cylinders to both hospitals.

“Other than oxygen, shortage of cylinders is an issue as we are not able to procure them. Earlier, we could manage with 10-15 cylinders, but now for the past month we have been requiring 180-200 cylinders. Till today, we were able to manage”, Dr Shapur said.

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