The Centre on Tuesday said that no states and Union Territories have provided any information on deaths of Covid patients in hospitals due to lack of liquid medical oxygen during the second wave.
The statement was made by junior health minister Bharati Praveen Pawar in a written response to a question raised by Congress MP K.C. Venugopal in the Rajya Sabha.
The Congress lawmaker had asked if it is fact that a large number of Covid-19 patients died on roads and hospitals due to a shortage of oxygen in the second wave. He had also sought a response from the government on the total demand and supply of oxygen by respective states during the last three months.
Responding to this, Mr Pawar said health is a State subject. All states/UTs report cases and deaths to the Union Health Ministry on a regular basis, as per detailed guidelines for reporting deaths. No deaths due to lack of oxygen have been specifically reported by states/UTs, the ministry told the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday.
Further, it said that the supply of medical oxygen to hospitals is determined by contractual arrangements between the concerned hospital and the medical oxygen supplier. However, due to the unprecedented surge in demand for medical oxygen during the second wave, the demand rose to nearly 9000 MT as compared to 3095 MT during the first wave. The Central Government had to step in to facilitate equitable distribution to the States, it added.
Meanwhile, Union Health minister Mansukh Mandaviya has said that the Centre compiles and publishes the data sent in by state governments. The Centre then publishes that data, and nothing else. He said that the Ministry has not told anyone to show fewer numbers (of deaths) or fewer positive cases. There’s no reason that the PM had said the same in meetings with chief ministers, he added.
Earlier, the Centre had rejected a probe ordered by the Delhi government into the deaths caused by a lack of oxygen supply. In one of the hospitals in Delhi, 21 patients died due to oxygen shortage and the matter is pending in the High Court.
The deaths due to the shortage of oxygen in Delhi during the second wave drew sharp criticism from the Opposition. Reacting to the answers of the Centre, the Opposition leader Venugopal said, this is a blind and unconcerned government. People have seen how many of their near and dear ones have died because of a lack of oxygen. He would move a privilege motion against the minister “for giving false information, added the Congress MP.
While Congress MP Mallikarjun Kharge said that they all know that due to lack of oxygen many hospitals refused to admit patients and many (Covid-19 patients) died. If they say so, then it is the first government that neither listens to nor sees. People should teach a lesson to them, he said.