Oxygen mock drill killed 22 patients in UP’s Agra; hospital director’s statement caught on camera

News Network
June 8, 2021

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."

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News Network
June 2,2021

Bengaluru, June 2: One of the accused in the assault and gang-rape of a Bangladeshi woman here, was shot at and injured as he tried to escape by allegedly attacking a police team that had gone to arrest him on Wednesday.

The incident comes days after two of his accomplices were shot at and injured by the city police during an escape attempt. With this, 10 people have been arrested in connection with case so far, police said.

Following a tip-off, a police team went to nab the kingpin, Shahbaz, at Rampura here this morning. On seeing the police party, the man attacked them using a knife and tried to flee, they said. However, the police opened fire at him in self defence and caught the accused. He was injured in the leg while a head constable also sustained injuries in the attack, they added.

The accused was taken to the hospital for treatment.

According to police sources, the rape victim was trafficked from Bangladesh by a network of human traffickers active in her country, Assam, West Bengal, Telangana and Karnataka,three years ago. Later, the 22-year-old woman was forced into prostitution by the gang.

Following a financial dispute, she was assaulted by six people, including a woman, and later four of them gang-raped her and brutalised her days ago.

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News Network
June 5,2021

Bengaluru, June 5: Karnataka needs 75,063 Liposomal Amphotericin B vials for 1,493 patients suffering from mucormycosis ('black fungus'), while Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilizers Sadananda Gowda has allocated only 22,460 vials to the state so far, including 9,750 vials on Friday.

There is a shortfall of 52,603 vials as of June 4.

Notwithstanding this allocation, the actual number of vials received so far by the state is also far less with the last supply of 2,000 vials received on June 1. Additionally, 7,960 vials from Stelis Biopharma (part of Strides Pharma) have reached Bengaluru and are available for distribution in the state. This is not a part of the central allotment of vials.

As of June 4, the state’s private hospitals have raised an indent of 38,788 vials for 956 of its patients, and the government hospitals have sought 36,275 vials for 537 of its patients.

Senior IAS officer Avinash Menon, who is the nodal officer appointed by the state for distributing the vials to the hospitals, refused to divulge the number of vials received by Karnataka, so far, from the Centre. However, the acute shortage was evident in both government and district hospitals, as endless indenting day after day with the state government is not resulting in the supply of this drug.

Dr Susheen Dutt, consultant, ENT, Fortis Hospital, Bannerghatta Road, said, “We indent 90 vials every day and get 30 once in three days. So far, we have operated upon 98 mucormycosis patients. Many of them did not get the medicine so they went back on an oral drug Posaconazole.

Yesterday (June 3), for eleven of our patients we badly needed 90 vials and there was no response. Today too, there was no response. So now, we’re giving it to most needy patients only and others are given tablets.”

At the state-run Minto Eye Hospital, there are 81 patients under treatment for mucormycosis while 40 patients have already succumbed to the fungal infection. The hospital gets vials every alternate day.

Dr Suhel Hasan, senior consultant, ENT, Narayana Health, said, “We have 15 patients and ideally all of them should be given Liposomal Amphotericin B. But we’re relying on Posaconazole which is not the first choice. It is not a first line drug and only given to discharged patients. Regular Amphotericin is toxic for the kidney so can’t be given in high doses. If we indent 100 vials, we get 20, and we need four vials for one patient every day.”

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News Network
June 15,2021

Bengaluru, June 15: A dangerous new Covid-19 variant that is potentially resistant to certain drugs has been found in Karnataka and other states with experts stressing the need for close monitoring of the situation.

Research suggests that the new variant, which is officially designated B.1.617.2.1 (or alternatively as AY.1) was first spotted in India on April 5.

Since then and up to May 15, seven additional sequences were identified in five other states, besides one from Karnataka.

According to experts, the increased mobility of people in March and April prior to the lockdown imposed on April 27, could have triggered the mutation, especially as it is a derivative of the B.1.617.2 “Delta” variant which experts already blame for driving the second wave.

Speaking as an independent authority, associate professor Amit Singh, head, Centre for Infectious Disease Research, Indian Institute of Science (IISc), said the larger the scale of the infections, the more opportunity for a virus to add a “gain of function” mutation.
 
“This is a mutation which gives a typical virus increased transmissibility, virulence, immunogenicity,” he said.

Well known virologist Dr V Ravi, who is also the chairman of the state’s Genomic Surveillance Committee, said that there was precedent to show that previous variants of the novel coronaviruses obtained same mutations independently across various geographic regions. 

Dr Vishal Rao, also a member of the Committee, said that the state does not know how many of the sequences are coming from airline passengers of the ongoing “air bubble” international flights and how many are coming from hospitals.

“There is no data. We also need to get clinical correlation by monitoring ICUs and hospitals to find out what the genomic pattern and behavior is. We are not keeping our ears to the ground,” he said.

What is known is that the sequences have been found in states which reported some of the highest incidences of Covid-19 cases in the second wave: Karnataka, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu. Odisha also found one sequence.

The largest number of sequences found so far have been in Tamil Nadu (three sequences found out of 562 genome samples). In Karnataka, the sole sequence was found among 1,115 samples.

At the same time, the number of Delta+ sequences being found in India are increasing. Up to June 11, six sequences had been made public. This rose to seven on June 13 and finally to eight on Monday.

Some 158 sequences of the Delta+ have been found across 11 countries to date: Nepal, Portugal, Poland, Switzerland, Japan, Russia, Turkey, the UK, the US and Canada. The first global cases were found on March 29.

What makes Delta+ a concern is that it has picked up a key new mutation in the S protein according to scientists at Delhi’s CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology. This allows it to evade an immune response. The new variant is also potentially resistant to monoclonal antibody cocktail, which has been hailed as a cure.

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