Agra: The Uttar Pradesh government has decided to carry out an inquiry into a viral video of the owner of a private hospital in Agra, in which he allegedly details how the hospital decided to carry out an “oxygen mock drill”. The drill is said to have been on April 26, amidst the peak days of India’s second COVID-19 wave, wherein they cut the oxygen of 22 critical Covid patients in the ICU.
The hospital owner is seen making flippant comments about how the patients "turned blue" due to lack of oxygen.
“There is no oxygen anywhere-- not even the CM could arrange oxygen. Modi Nagar has run dry. So we started counselling families and asked them to discharge the patients. Some listened, but many refused (to discharge the patients). So we decided to locate critical patients whose oxygen might be on the verge of ending… patients on their last legs of oxygen supply. We decided to try to do a mock drill on them. We did the mock drill at 7 a.m. and snapped their oxygen for five minutes. We recognised 22 patients, and realised they would die. We turned their oxygen supply off for five minutes. They turned blue,” Arinjay Jain, the owner of Paras hospital, claimed in the video.
After the video was released, it went viral on social media, with netizens condemning the apathy and cruelty of hospital administration, calling upon authorities to look into the matter. Though unconfirmed, netizens are speculating the deaths of the 22 critical patients whose oxygen was cut during the mock drill. Even though both the hospital and government authorities have reported 7 deaths due to Covid on April 26 and April 27, the number of casualties due to oxygen shortage has not been reported.
Agra’s District Magistrate, Prabhu N Singh, in his statement to the media, claims that no deaths occurred due to the lack of oxygen that day, and a total of 7 deaths were reported as a result of Covid on April 26 and April 27. Mr. Singh has insisted that a probe shall be done by the UP government on the matter.
While talking to the media, Jain insisted that his statements were misapprehended. He insisted that the mock drill was done to spot critical patients and their oxygen dependency, and provide them with better assistance. Though he does not deny the occurrence of the “mock drill”, he has denied claims of oxygen supply of these patients being cut during the mock drill, asserting that the four deaths that happened on 26th and three on the next day were solely due to Covid-19, and not because of the said drill.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi publicly condemned the incident with a tweet, blaming the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party for its mishandling of the Covid situation in India. In a tweet originally in Hindi, he said, “There is a severe shortage of both oxygen and humanity under the BJP rule. Action should be taken immediately against all those responsible for this dangerous crime. My condolences to the families of the deceased in this hour of grief.”
Coincidentally, on April 24, Uttar Pradesh’s CM Yogi Adityanath, during a virtual interaction with select journalists, had claimed that there was no shortage of oxygen in any government or private Covid hospital in Uttar Pradesh. The state government had also claimed that its preparation for Covid management was better than before.