Thirteen Covid patients died at Goa’s apex government hospital, the Goa Medical College, in the early hours of Friday owing to oxygen mismanagement, even as the death toll of patients who died between 2 am and 6 am at the premier facility reached 75 in four days.
Videos of chaos at the numerous wards of the medical college have gone viral, with patients, relatives pleading for assistance as well as uploading emotive snapshots of helplessness and lack of hygiene in the health facility.
A video shot at ward number 145, shows patients sleeping on mattresses and with oxygen monitors beeping in the background and the dull echo of family members patting patients in a bid to reassure them. The video also shows debris of used food packets and other waste piled in a corner of the ward, spilling out of garbage bags.
In another video, shot by a relative at Ward 147, the relative complains of a procession of six to seven deaths at the hospital ward due to oxygen shortage. “The government says there is enough oxygen supply and is playing with the lives of people”.
An Opposition MLA of the Goa Forward party Vijai Sardesai has called the four hours between 2 am and 6 am — when most of the deaths have happened — as the “dark hour” of death.
“In all 75 people have died at the dark hour between 2am to 6am in the dead of the night on the last four consecutive nights,” Sardesai said.
While 26 persons died on May 10 during the four hours, on May 11, 21 persons died due to lack of oxygen. Despite a grilling of government agencies by the Bombay High Court, which is hearing a bunch of public interest litigations related to poor Covid management and shoddy oxygen management at the premier hospital, the spate of deaths did not stop, with 15 persons dying on May 12 and 13 patients dying in the early hours of Friday.
“There is a complete collapse of governance. In spite of HC intervention, deaths are happening at this dark hour. Rather than the government, HC should rule Goa because government is doing nothing other than photo ops and filing cases against those who expose them,” Sardesai said.
Early Friday, a team of youth Congress officials, which has been assisting patients with refilling of oxygen cylinders for several days, also visited the Covid ward of the medical college.
“If HC has to intervene in every matter, why do you need a government? We had demanded RTPCR tests to be made mandatory because of increasing tourist footfalls in Goa, especially from Maharashtra which was facing a huge spike,” Youth Congress president Varad Mardolkar said.
“This oxygen issue has been around for 14-15 days. But the government could not fix a problem like this. it took the High Court to intervene and take some steps to address the crisis,” Mardolkar said.
The Goa government on Thursday had formed a committee, headed by Indian Institute of Technology-Goa director Dr. BK Mishra, to streamline oxygen supply to the facility. The committee is expected to submit a report within three days.