As many as 26 Covid-19 patients lost their lives while receiving treatment at Goa Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) during the wee hours of Tuesday, state health minister Vishwajit Rane said.
While the cause of deaths is not clear, earlier today, Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant hinted that disrupted oxygen supply in the facility might be one of reasons behind the fatalities.
“Availability of medical oxygen and its supply to Covid-19 wards in the GMCH might have caused some issues for the patients,” Sawant said while strictly maintaining that the hospital is not facing any shortage of medical oxygen.
However, the health minister issued a conflicting statement and said that the facility reported a shortfall of oxygen on Monday.
Rane said that the hospital had required 1,200 jumbo cylinders of oxygen on Monday but the government was only able to provide it with 400 cylinders.
The deaths occurred between 2 am to 6 am today, officials said.
"The high court should investigate the reasons behind these deaths. The HC should also intervene and prepare a white paper on oxygen supply to the GMCH, which would help to set the things right," the health minister said after CM's visit to the GMCH.
"If there's a shortfall in the supply of medical oxygen, the discussion should be held about how to bridge that gap," Rane added.
He further said a three-member team of nodal officers set up by the state government to oversee Covid-19 treatment at GMCH should give its inputs about the issues to the CM.
Earlier in the day, the CM donning a PPE kit visited the Covid-19 wards in the GMCH where he met patients and their relatives.
"There are issues over the availability of oxygen in these wards which need to be sorted out," the CM said.
He announced the setting up of a ward-wise mechanism to ensure a smooth supply of medical oxygen.
"Doctors, who are busy treating patients, cannot spend their time in arranging logistics like oxygen. I will hold a meeting immediately to set up ward-wise mechanisms to ensure that oxygen is supplied to patients in time," Sawant told reporters.
The CM said there was no dearth of medical oxygen and cylinders in the state but the problem arises sometimes as these cylinders do not reach their destinations on time.
Sawant said the state government is making efforts on all fronts to tackle the pandemic.
"We have abundant supplies of (medical) oxygen. There is no scarcity in the state," he said.
Goa's Covid-19 tally stood at 1,21,650 as of May 10, while 50 deaths had taken the toll to 1,729, an official had said.
Meanwhile, Sawant warned of action against private hospitals that refuse the coverage of Deen Dayal Swastha Seva Yojana (DDSSY) to Covid-19 patients.
He said the pending financial dues on part of private hospitals under this scheme will be cleared in the next 15 days.
(With PTI inputs)