Audit Covid deaths; probe Goa O2 shortage deaths: Bombay HC told

The Goa government needs to conduct an audit of the nearly 3,000 Covid-19 deaths which occurred in the state and also appoint a judicial commission to probe the deaths of nearly 100 patients due to oxygen shortage, the Bombay High Court was informed on Monday.

The demands were made by a group of petitioners who had pointed to various shortcomings in the Goa government’s Covid management efforts, and had been directed by the High Court’s Goa bench on June 11 to list out issues which required judicial intervention.

“The State Government should set up a committee, comprising of professionals like doctors and statisticians to carry out a complete audit of the COVID-19 deaths in the State of Goa. Underreporting of deaths during the pandemic has been a global phenomenon occurring due to human error under the enormous pressure exerted on the system by the pandemic,” the petitioners said.

“Such an audit will not only reveal the exact number of COVID-19 deaths but also serve to help the concerned authorities to save lives during the impending third wave of COVID-19,” the petitioners also said.

The petitioners have also urged the Bombay High Court bench to set up an enquiry commission headed by a retired HC judge along with a magistrate, two independent doctors and police officials under the Commission of Inquiry Act, 1952 to probe the deaths which occurred at the Goa Medical College, the apex health facility in the state, due to oxygen shortage.

“Persons admitted in the Government Hospitals have lost their lives only due inadequate supply of oxygen. Some of these victims were the sole bread-winners of the family, some children have lost both their parents, etc. These victims need to be identified and their dependents/kin have to be adequately compensated depending upon their situation,” the petitioners said.

“The Commission should not only trace the victims and the dependents but also determine the quantum of compensation to be individually paid to the dependants. The Commission be also tasked with identifying government officials, if any, who have acted in a negligent manner which has resulted in inadequate supply of oxygen,” the petitioners further said.

Nearly 100 persons have reportedly died at the top hospital when the pandemic was at its peak in Goa last month. While the Health Minister Vishwajit Rane has claimed that the deaths have occurred due to oxygen shortage, the state administration has said that the 100 odd deaths could not be linked to lack of oxygen supply to the patients.