Despite widespread reportage on deaths owing to the lack of oxygen during the second wave of coronavirus in the state, the Uttar Pradesh government claimed that no deaths were reported due to Oxygen shortage in the 2nd wave of the pandemic.
“No death has been reported in the state due to lack of oxygen during the second wave,” UP health minister Jai Pratap Singh said on Thursday in the Legislative Assembly, news agency PTI quoted.
Singh went on to say that death certificates of the 22,915 patients who died of the coronavirus in the state made no mention of Oxygen shortage.
Singh was responding to a question raised by Congress member Deepak Singh.
Deepak asked in the Assembly: “Many ministers wrote letters saying deaths are taking place due to lack of oxygen in the state. Apart from this, many MPs had also made such complaints… Is there any information with the government about these deaths in the entire state. Has the government not seen the dead bodies flowing in the Ganges and people suffering due to lack of oxygen?”
While responding to the BJP minister’s claim, Opposition MLAs said the “truth will not change if the government writes ‘extinct’ instead of ‘death’ in the certificate.”
Opposition lawmakers noted the case of Paras Hospital in Agra, in which 16 COVID-19 patients had died in April after the hospital shut off oxygen supply as part of a mock drill. The state government had also ordered an inquiry in the case.
Nothing less than genocide
In May this year, strongly criticising the Uttar Pradesh government, the Allahabad High Court said that the death of coronavirus patients due to non supply of oxygen to hospitals is a criminal act and nothing less than genocide.
“Death of Covid patients just for non supplying of oxygen to the hospitals is a criminal act and not less than a genocide by those who have been entrusted the task to ensure continuous procurement of the liquid medical oxygen,” court said.
The court said that the stories which went viral on social media showed poor citizens begging for oxygen cylinders to save the lives of their near and dear ones and harassment meted out to them by the government officials including district administration and police.
“The news was also viralled that five patients had died in ICU of a new trauma centre of Medical College, Meerut on Sunday last. Similarly, news were also being viralled that one Sun Hospital, Gomti Nagar, Lucknow and another private hospital at Meerut had taken their hands off the admitted COVID-19 patients only for the reason that oxygen supply was not made even after demand,” judge said.
The court was hearing a suo motu case initiated by it in relation to the COVID-19 crisis in Uttar Pradesh.