COVID crisis: Shortage of Oxygen, beds put Lucknow in megrim

Photo: Shaheen Abdulla/Maktoob

Mohd Yasir Jamal Kidwai

“We searched whole Lucknow with my father’s Oxygen level deteriorating each passing minute but none of the hospitals admitted him,” says Ayan, son of a COVID patient, helpless and beaten.

Hundreds of patients are stranded in Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh contradicting the claims of Chief Minister Yogi Adithyanath. The Covid tally continued to spike with 5162 fresh cases recorded on Sunday taking the total figure to around 1.85 Lakh. 

Since the advent of the second wave, COVID-19 has completely taken Uttar Pradesh in its grip with more than 5,000 cases officially recorded continuously from the past 13 days.

Testing labs are allegedly told not to conduct teat to under-report caseload. Over the week many reports suggest the government is consciously suppressing the real picture and threatening whistleblowers.  

A doctor of the COVID ward at Arogyam Hospital, Alambagh, Lucknow, clearly stated “The hospital administration is responsible for only 2 oxygen cylinders, once they get exhausted we are not accountable to anyone”. 

People from nearby districts depend on Lucknow’s health infrastructure, which has collapsed in the past week. A critically ill COVID patient from Astha hospital, Barabanki, was asked to shift to Lucknow hospital for better care. They only found an ambulance without oxygen supply, claims the kin.

“As a human, I have exhausted all my resources, only God can save my uncle now,” said Rakesh, nephew of a COVID patient. Although they arranged Oxygen and transported the patient to Lucknow, no bed was available to admit the patient. 

As of Sunday, for a COVID patient to get admitted to the hospital, People need to get a Jack to talk to concerned authorities to get their own oxygen cylinders. Hospitals like Sanjay Gandhi Postgraduate Institute of Medical Sciences are asking the patients to arrange the Oxygen cylinders and then get admitted. Similar is the case in other major hospitals. 

Over the week, Lucknow hospitals had put out notices asking to shift patients as the hospitals have an acute shortage of oxygen supply. Private hospitals are charging a hefty amount as each medical resources are in high demand.

“We will not admit any patient until they are tested from Medanta Pathology and for time being we will keep the patient in the waiting area,” said a senior staff of Medanta Hospital to Sourabh who was optimistic of getting an ICU bed in the ‘high-profile’ hospital. 

The recent order of the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh to officials to seize the property of individuals who spread “rumours” and propaganda on social media and invoke the National Security Act threatens people to go online and ask for help.

Earlier he ordered to take action under the NSA and the Gangsters Act against “anti-social elements” involved in “blackmarketing” of medicine, spreading rumours and trying to spoil the atmosphere. The ban on private distribution has made the situation even worse. The order seems to miss a crucial point that the lack of beds in the hospital has restricted the covid patients to remain at home with the only assistance of an oxygen cylinder.

With currently more than 3 lakh cases everyday, India is the worst hit by the pandemic so far and foreign countries have stepped in to support the struggle to build back the health infrastructure. But Uttar Pradesh government is still in denial about the crisis that takes hundreds of lives each day in the state.

Mohd Yasir Jamal Kidwai is a student of Aligarh Muslim University and an intern with Maktoob media.