Due to “logistic problems” in the supply of medical oxygen, 75 Covid-19 patients have died in the last four days at Goa Medical College and Hospital (GMCH), the state’s largest Covid facility. The death toll rose again on Friday, with 13 more patients succumbing. On Thursday, 15 people died, 21 people died the day before — Wednesday — and 26 people died the day before — Tuesday. Even as the Goa bench of the Bombay High Court hears petitions related to deaths at the premier hospital during the “dark hours” (between 2 and 6 a.m.), the nightmare at GMCH continues.
While the state government has not disclosed the exact cause of recent deaths at the GMCH, it has informed the High Court that “logistic issues” with the supply of medical oxygen to patients is to blame. On Thursday, Advocate General Devidas Pangam told a bench of Justices Nitin Sambre and Mahesh Sonak that manoeuvring the tractor that transports the oxygen trolleys and attaching the cylinders to the manifold had logistical issues (group of large gas cylinders).
The Goa government told the HC that there was an interruption in the process of connecting the oxygen manifold, resulting in a drop in pressure in the oxygen supply lines to patients. “We were informed that there was an interruption during this operation, which resulted in a drop in pressure in the oxygen supply lines to the patients. It was pointed out that some casualties could have occurred as a result of these factors,” the bench had said.
Pressure in the central pipeline began to collapse about 1 a.m. on Thursday, according to a resident doctor at one of the GMCH wards, and three patients in his ward succumbed to the fluctuations amid attempts to resuscitate them. “We received frantic calls from relatives reporting that patients were gasping for air and that their saturation levels (SPO2) had fallen to 40-50.” The oxygen pressure dropped at least five to six times between Wednesday and Thursday night, according to the doctor.
The Goa Congress announced on Saturday that they would file criminal charges against Chief Minister Pramod Sawant and Health Minister Viswajit Rane in response to the deaths. Goa Pradesh Congress Committee president Girish Chodankar said in a statement that the BJP government in Goa’s candid admission that there is a significant shortage of oxygen shows that it is “irresponsible, insensitive, and led by an inept and deficient Chief Minister.”