Covid-19 patients have been dying in Andhra Pradesh due to complications arising out of either medical oxygen being supplied below the required pressure mark, or due to medical facilities having no supply of oxygen at all. In the past two days itself, at least 16 to 20 people have reportedly died in Andhra Pradesh due to lack of requisite oxygen. At least 14 COVID-19 patients died at the Government General Hospital at Anantapur on Saturday due to a snag in the oxygen supply pipeline. Separately, five died at a private facility in Kurnool district due to shortage of oxygen.
According to the Hindu, out of the 14 patients who died at the Government General Hospital at Anantapur, six of the victims were in the Orthopaedic Ward and four in the Chest Ward. The four others were among the 180 patients on Oxygen Support and in the Intensive Care Unit. The report also added that chances of the number of deaths due to the oxygen supply snag being higher was possible. At a time when the oxygen supply pipelines were facing technical difficulties leading to patients succumbing to Covid-19, one would have thought that the state government led by YS Jagan Mohan Reddy would swiftly fix all snags.
However, the state government and respective district administrations, rather than fixing the problems leading to the deaths of innocent patients, are busy covering up and feeding false narratives to the media. Collector Gandham Chandrudu outrightly denied that 10 persons had died by 1 p.m. on Saturday due to lack of oxygen. In a late-night press conference, he denied that there was a problem with the oxygen supply and said all the deaths were due to complications related to COVID-19.
Anantha Venkatarami Reddy, who is the Anantapur Urban MLA and was receiving calls from infuriated patients and their families, said, “I alerted the GGH Superintendent K.S.S. Venkateswara Rao and the Resident Medical Officer about the low pressure of Oxygen, but they were in the denial. They corrected themselves only after a series of deaths took place in the evening.” Such is the apathy prevalent in Andhra Pradesh that despite patients raising the issue of oxygen snag and despite many of them dying, work to fix the oxygen pipeline from the 13kl LMO tank and vaporisers were started only at 7 pm on Saturday.
In a separate incident at Kurnool, at least five patients died at a private medical facility due to lack of oxygen. Interestingly, this facility was not permitted to treat Covid-19 patients. Here too, authorities went on an overdrive to cover up their apathy. Kurnool district collector G Veera Pandiyan said that only two patients had died in the incident.
The Jagan Mohan Reddy government of Andhra Pradesh has a lot of answering to do, particularly regarding the lackadaisical attitude of his district officials who have made it a habit to coverup apathy-related incidents.