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Oxygen shortage behind 24 deaths in Chamarajanagar, confirms panel report

The report confirmed that 24 Covid-19 patients died due to lack of oxygen in the district hospital on May 3 night as oxygen was not available for four hours from 10.30 pm on May 2.

By: Express Web Desk | Bengaluru |
Updated: May 13, 2021 12:52:31 pm
Karnataka covid deaths, Chamarajanagar deaths, Chamarajanagar oxygen shortage, Karnataka oxygen shortage, Karnataka hospital, Karnataka news, Indian expressRelatives of COVID-19 patients who died cry at the government district hospital in Chamarajanagar, Karnataka. (AP)

Oxygen shortage and failure of hospital and district administration to avert the crisis contributed to the deaths of 24 Covid-19 patients in Chamarajanagar last week, according to a preliminary report submitted by a panel led by Justice A S Venugopal Gowda (retired).

The report confirmed that 24 Covid-19 patients died due to lack of oxygen in the district hospital on May 3 night as oxygen was not available for four hours from 10.30 pm on May 2. The panel also noted that 62 died in the hospital between May 4 and May 10 (till 6.15 am), and at least 36 of them were in-patients on May 2.

The report said that the hospital officials and Chamarajanagar district commissioner failed to exhibit leadership quality. “The Dean of Chamarajanagar Institute of Medical Sciences (CIMS) and the in-charge district surgeon, a microbiologist, did not exhibit leadership quality and failed to efficiently marshal available resources to save lives,” the report said.

“The Deputy Commissioner of Chamarajanagar, as chairman of the District Disaster Management Committee, miserably failed to guide and supervise the crisis situation arising out of extreme demand for oxygen. On the contrary, he indulged in an unsavoury blame game accusing the District Commissioner of Mysuru of causing hindrance for oxygen supply without any basis,” the report stated.

The committee also noted that the District Commissioner, Mysuru, did not get in the way of refilling agencies in Mysuru from refilling oxygen cylinders of any other districts, including Chamarajanagar.

The panel found that the truck transporting the oxygen cylinders should have reached Chamarajanagar by 2 am but stopped at a refilling agency to load another 30 cylinders. It reached the hospital at 6 am on May 3, report said.

The committee submitted its report to the Karnataka High Court after analysing official records that were recently seized by the Chief Secretary after the direction of the court.

A Special Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Aravind Kumar also directed the government to submit its response on the panel report and has also recommended compensating the kin of the 24 victims.

The other two committee members were retired high court judge K N Keshavanarayana and retired IPS officer S T Ramesh.

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