No deaths of COVID-19 patients due to lack of medical oxygen were reported from any state or union territories (UTs) during the second wave of the pandemic, the union government told on Tuesday, July 20.
In a written response to a question in the Rajya Sabha, Minister of State for Health Bharati Pawar said that the country witnessed a massive surge in demand for life-saving gas during the period between April-May, 2021.
The demand peaked at 9000 MT compared to 3,095 MT in the first wave which compelled the Centre to step in to ensure there is an equitable distribution of oxygen among the states, reported The Indian Express.
She further added that the government took a number of measures including allocation of medical oxygen and other necessary supplies to facilitate the treatment of the COVID-19 patients during this period.
On being quizzed if a large number of COVID-infected patients died on roads and hospitals due to a severe shortage of oxygen, Pawar stated that 'health' was a state subject. The states and UTs regularly report the number of infections and fatalities to the Centre.
"However, no deaths due to lack of oxygen have been specifically reported by states and UTs," the minister said, as per the Indian Express.
Statements Spark Outrage
Pawar was responding to the questions put forth by AICC General Secretary K C Venugopal. Condemning the statements, he accused the government of misleading the house. Venugopal said that he will move a privilege motion against the minister 'for giving false information'.
"This is a blind and unconcerned government. People have seen how many of their near and dear ones have died because of lack of oxygen," said Venugopal, reported NDTV.
"In every state and in Delhi also, we have seen how many patients died due to lack of oxygen we know. Actually, the minister misled the House. I will move a privilege(motion) against the minister definitely because she misguided and misled the House by giving false information to the House," he added.
Media Reports On COVID Fatalities Due To Oxygen Scarcity
It is important to take into consideration multiple news reports that highlighted the lack of medical oxygen during the devastating second wave that spiked fatalities due to coronavirus infection.
Over 70 COVID-19 patients died at the Goa Medical College and Hospital over a period of five days in May. At least 24 patients died after a government facility ran out of medical oxygen in Karnataka's Chamrajanagar. As many as 11 coronavirus patients had died in the ICU of a government hospital due to disruption in the oxygen supply.
The massive SOS requests that were spread across all the platforms on social media are a stark reminder of the crisis that our country was into during the two months. People from all walks of life stepped in to aid the ones in need when they felt abandoned by their own leaders. International media reports have repeatedly stated that the fatalities reported in India have been grossly underreported.