New Delhi: The Union health ministry has said the states have not provided any information on deaths of Covid patients in hospitals due to lack of oxygen. With a number of deaths due to oxygen shortage making headlines during the second wave, especially in Delhi, the matter drew sharp criticism from the opposition.
Minister for the state, Bharati Praveen Pawar said in her written reply in Rajysabha that Health is a state subject and states and UTs regularly report the number of cases and deaths to the Centre.
She also informed that even, "no deaths due to lack of oxygen have been specifically reported by states and UTs," she was responding to the question of whether Covid patients died on roads and hospitals due to oxygen shortage.
Though In Goa, more than 80 people died at a state-run medical facility over five days in May. In Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh, 11 Covid patients who were at the ICU of a hospital died after the supply of medical oxygen was disrupted. At a hospital in Hyderabad, seven patients died at government hospital during a two-hour cut in oxygen supply.
Images of mass graves on the sandbanks of Ganga in north India, and thousands of bodies floating down the river, has created a perception that the real figure of deaths in the second wave will never be known.
It is wrong to blame the Union ministry over death figures, said Mr Mandaviya. "Whom are you blaming? You are blaming the Indian government, you are blaming Modi Ji. Who does the registration? The states do. Who decides the count? The states do. They have to do the registration, they have to put in the numbers. Here, no one has asked them to stop. Modi Ji said that if there is a backlog put that as well. There is no reason to hide it," he said.
In most places, the authorities have denied that the deaths took place due to oxygen shortage. Last month the Centre had vetoed an investigation ordered by the Delhi government into the deaths caused by a lack of oxygen supply. At one hospital in Delhi, 21 patients died due to oxygen shortage and the matter is pending in the High Court.
Even in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday, Union Minister Mansukh Mandaviya defended the government on the issue of high death figures in the second wave and said it is the states that are in charge of registering and providing death figures.
There were several reports that exposed several deaths due to lack of oxygen across the country in the second wave of covid 19.