Agra, June 8: A hospital director in Agra, Uttar Pradesh, has allegedly been caught on camera speaking about how a 5-minute oxygen mock drill in April caused the death of 22 patients, prompting outrage and an inquiry into the issue.
In the short 1.5-minute video clip, Arinjay Jain, the owner of Paras Hospital, which includes a Covid-19 facility, can be heard saying his hospital cut off oxygen supply to patients for a 5-minute mock drill on April 27, amid a crippling oxygen shortage in the state and the entire country when the second Covid wave was still on the rise.
"We were told that even the Chief Minister cannot get oxygen, so start discharging patients. Modi Nagar is dry,” Jain is heard saying on the clip recorded on April 28 that has since gone viral on social media.
“We started counseling families. Some were willing to listen, but the others said they would not leave. I said okay let's do a mock drill. We will find out who will die and who will survive. So we did that at 7 am. A mock drill was done. No one knows. Then we identified 22 patients. We realised they would die. This was done for 5 minutes. They started turning blue."
Scenes of desperation broke out in Uttar Pradesh in late April and early May as people ran from pillar to post in search of oxygen for family and friends who had contracted Covid, leading to an acute scarcity of the life-saving gas.
Agra District Magistrate Prabhu N Singh, in a statement to the media, however, refuted any deaths due to oxygen shortage on the day the video was recorded but promised a probe into the issue.
"Initially, there was some panic and shortage but we sorted all that out in 48 hours. In this hospital, there have been seven Covid deaths on the 26th and 27th of April. The hospital also has a lot of other ICU beds. There is no truth that 22 people died but we will carry out an inquiry," Singh said in the statement.
The incident was met with much outcry on social media, with Congress leader Rahul Gandhi also hitting out against the ruling party in the state. However, the owner of the hospital said his words had been misinterpreted.
“We had to find out the oxygen dependency of the patients to understand how we can handle the situation if there was an oxygen shortage or if the supply gets over... Mock drill means taking stock of the situation before facing an issue, to understand how to work in an emergency,” Jain said.
“We had categorised the patients... We categoried Covid patients to see which patient needs how much oxygen... A mock drill does not mean switching off a patient's oxygen. We did not switch off oxygen. I did not clearly say so in the video. I said a mock drill was done at 7 am. In this, 22 patients died."