A viral video on Indian social media shows the “abandoned” bodies of Covid-19 patients lying in the ICU of a hospital on the outskirts of Delhi as exasperated family members claim the doctors and staff had abandoned the ward.
Six Covid patients died on Friday at the Kriti Hospital in Gurgaon, 40 kilometres away from the capital city, allegedly after the hospital ran out of the oxygen, reported NDTV.
The probe has been ordered by Deputy Commissioner Gurugram as the hospital had admitted coronavirus patients even though it was not a Covid-19 designated hospital. The investigation will look into whether the patients died of the virus or lack of oxygen.
The video shows family members frantically knocking on the ward’s door.
“Everyone is lying dead,” a man in the video said as police arrived.
The relatives found empty desks and unattended bodies in the ward as one of them counts the bodies, saying: “Dead, dead.”
"Neither the doctor is here, nor the chemist... no one at the reception. There is not even a guard," one person says.
The angered family members broke down and asked police how can doctors run away while “abandoning” patients.
Swati Rathore, director of the hospital, said they were raising SOS calls to the government from 2pm that day as they were about to run out of oxygen. She said they had informed patients families.
"We had informed relatives of the patients from 4pm to shift their patients due to the oxygen crisis. But no help came and there were six casualties around 11 pm," Dr Rathore told NDTV.
She said she directed the staff to hide in order to save their lives from enraged family members as six days ago some attendants attacked their staff and vandalised the hospital.
"I feared that my staff would lose their lives this time. The staff never left the hospital that night. They hid temporarily to save their lives," she added.
An employee of the Gurgaon hospital said they need to have their cylinders refilled each day but they are unable to get them refilled. “Our vehicle with 20 empty cylinders has been at the Manesar oxygen plant for 24 hours but we have not been able to get them refilled yet,” Mohan Rai said.
The hospital said they had verbal permission to operate as a Covid hospital while administration said it was functioning as one without registration as Covid facility.
Yash Garg, deputy commissioner of Gurgaon, said the hospital was not under scrutiny as it was not a Covid hospital and “the number of admitted patients was much higher”.
“So whether it was sick patients who died or whether it was the oxygen crunch. At what time the SOS was raised and how the situation was handled will only come out in the inquiry report,” he added.
Indian opposition leader Rahul Gandhi reacted to the news, calling it a “murder.”
“This is murder. And cover up! My condolences to the families of the victim,” Mr Gandhi said.
As India’s healthcare infrastructure is pounded under the weight of huge surge, a number of people have died in hospitals after oxygen supply to patients ran dry.
A court in India’s Uttar Pradesh said deaths due to a lack of oxygen supplies are “not less than genocide.” His remarks came after concerning reports and posts on social media about the death of patients due to shortage of oxygen in Lucknow and Meerut districts.
Hospitals in several states including Delhi have sent SOS messages about oxygen shortages daily over the past four weeks, while patients are being asked to arrange for own oxygen tanks in hospitals.
India reported all time high 412,262 new infections on Wednesday with 3,980 deaths, pushing total fatalities to 230,168. The country has 3.5 million active cases while the experts say the actual tally is still an undercount.
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