Five more encephalitis-related child deaths were reported from the Baba Raghav Das Medical College hospital since Tuesday, taking to 71, the number of persons who have died here of the disease since August 7, officials said today.
“As many as 14 fresh cases of encephalitis were admitted on August 15 and August 16. At present, there are 64 patients undergoing treatment in the hospital,” the office of the additional director health said giving details.
With the five deaths reported since Tuesday, the toll since August 7 in the state-run hospital has risen to 71, according to officials. Overall, since January 1, as many as 144 encephalitis-related deaths have taken place in the hospital, they said.
In Lucknow, amid allegations that shortage of oxygen cylinders at the hospital had led to the deaths, UP Health Minister Siddharth Nath Singh said that loss of life due to such a reason was nothing less than a “heinous crime”.
He, however, added that all aspects related to the deaths at the state-run BRD medical college hospital were being probed by a panel led by the UP chief secretary. Those found guilty would be punished, Singh promised.
“Any death due to oxygen shortage is a heinous rime…Any laxity on this front is also a crime,” the UP health minister told reporters.
Singh said that “on the basis of a primary inquiry”, action was taken against the principal of the college. The deaths also led to a war of words between BJP and the Congress.
The Congress accused the Yogi Adityanath government of not accepting its responsibility on the issue. UP Congress chief Raj Babbar said that his party will fight till the victims get justice.
The BJP hit back accusing the Congress of playing politics over deaths. “The Congress is trying to exploit children’s death for politics. This is ridiculous and shameless,” BJP spokesman Rakesh Tripathi told reporters.
BSP chief Mayawati also targeted the government over the incident.
Meanwhile, UP Health Minister Singh said that a report had been sought from all the medical colleges and hospitals on the availability of oxygen or payment issues and added that everything had been found in order.
The minister said that hospitals and community health centres in the area were being provided all necessary facilities so that they are well equipped and patients do not have to run to the BRD medical college.