Patna: Lack of oxygen, beds and proper treatment on time are claiming lives of many severely affected COVID-19 patients across Bihar. In a heartbreaking incident on Tuesday, May 4, a pregnant frontline worker – a nurse, who was infected on duty in a government run hospital, died in the state after failing to get oxygen and ICU bed. Angered by the death of a fellow worker, angry frontline workers and doctors protested at the sadar hospital in Madhubani demanding adequate ICU beds in each hospital.
The incident took place three days after Bihar Industry Minister Syed Shahnawaz Hussain, a senior BJP leader, claimed that there was no shortage of oxygen or beds in the state. Bihar’s Health Minister Mangal Pandey, who is also from the BJP, has also repeatedly refuted the oxygen crisis in the state's hospitals.
Meanwhile, in a bid to control the alarming COVID -19 situation in the state, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Tuesday announced a total lockdown in the state till May 15. The decision for a lockdown was taken a day after Patna High Court observed that state government has failed in
controlling the COVID-19 situation and that if the state government doesn’t declare a lockdown, the court will have to pass an appropriate order.
Despite drawing repeated flak from the Patna High Court in the last two weeks and oral observations against the failure of the state government to ensure oxygen to hospitals and arrange beds and proper treatment, nothing appears to be moving in the right direction on the ground.
In the latest incident, the 7-months pregnant nurse from Madhubani district, who tested positive for COVID-19 last week, was reportedly referred to the Darbhanga Medical College and Hospital form the local district hospital. However, unable to access oxygen or even a bed for proper treatment, the nurse reportedly breathed her last on Tuesday.
Following this, the frontline workers at the Sadar hospital boycotted the emergency ward and went on strike for over three hours to express their unhappiness.
Responding to this, a civil surgeon at the hospital, Dr Shakendar Kumar, said that all demands of the hospital staff and front line workers would be fulfilled by the administration. Kumar added that all facilities including adequate security would be provided to them in the hospital, COVID-19 care centre and quarantine centre.
Also read: COVID-19: Bihar's ASHA Workers Die in Silence in the Face of Feigned Government Ignorance
The Indian Medical Association's Bihar chapter has already expressed its serious concern over deaths of 47 doctors in Bihar during the ongoing second wave of COVID-19. According to officials of IMA Bihar, Dr Vinay Kumar Singh, a doctor posted at Gardanibagh hospital in Patna died on Tuesday after getting infected on duty. Two days earlier, a primary health centre in charge at Punpun in Patna district reportedly died due to COVID-19.
The Patna HC on Monday had observed that the state government has failed in controlling the COVID-19 situation in Bihar. It further stated that there was no action plan with the government to handle the pandemic and that the Health Department officials are submitting farce reports, which are far from the truth on the ground.
Reportedly in Patna, most of the private hospitals are refusing to admit COVID-19 positive patients citing lack of oxygen supply. Even if someone did manage to get beds, their close relatives are being asked by the authorities to arrange oxygen for them, as per reports.
“We have no option but to stand in a long queue to fill up the oxygen cylinder as private hospitals refuse to admit a patient without oxygen,” Ashutosh Kumar, a businessman, whose father is admitted in a private hospital in Patna said.
In another case, Amit Kumar, a bank official and resident of the posh Nehru Nagar here, said that he and his old mother tested positive for COVID-19. When her oxygen level dropped on May 1, he visited three big hospitals in Patliputra area and two hospitals in Kankarbagh, but they refused to admit her in the absence of oxygen. Later a private hospital at Gola road admitted her on condition that the family arranges two oxygen cylinder.
Similarly, when another patient, Sunil Kumar Singh’s condition deteriorated as he developed breathlessness and uneasiness, his family members took him to the government run Patna Medical College and Hospital, India Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences and half a dozen private hospitals, but none of them admitted him on the ground that there was no oxygen, his family said.
In Patna, an oxygen cylinder is allegedly selling at Rs 30 ,000 to 40,000 in the black market. An observation which was also made by the Patna High Court during a hearing of a PIL on Monday.
The state has 1,07,667 active COVID-19 cases as on Monday, after 11,407 new cases were reported. Despite the decrease in the testing rate, the number of positive cases are growing daily in the state in the last few days. More than 450 people have lost their lives due to COVID-19 in the past five days in the state.