New movement restrictions kick in today
Geetanjali Minhas | April 22, 2021 | Mumbai
The Maharashtra government has ordered a probe into the tragic incident of oxygen leak at the Zakir Hussain Hospital in Nashik district, in which 24 Covid-19 patients on critical life support have died.
Chief Minister, Uddhav Thackeray expressed grief over the tragic incident and announced a thorough inquiry and said that he had instructed the chief secretary to immediately investigate and determine responsibility so that no hospital in other districts reported oxygen leaks. He said that the kin of every patient who died will receive a compensation of Rs 5 lakh. “I appeal to the people not to indulge in politics,” said Thackeray.
The hospital, a dedicated Covid facility, had 157 patients. State health minister Rajesh Tope said that out of 157 patients 61 were in critical condition and required oxygen. The dead were aged between 33-75 years of age. The incident took place at around 10 am on Wednesday when a liquid oxygen tanker was being refilled through an oxygen tank that was connected to the hospital oxygen and a massive leak occurred at the outlet of the tank. This led to disconnecting oxygen supply to the hospital for more than half an hour and as a result, oxygen supply to patients was disrupted. These patients were on oxygen and ventilator support.
Tope said that Nashik municipal commissioner Radhakrishna Game will head a team to probe the incident. The team will ascertain if it was a technical or human fault and submit its report within a week. Tope said a stand operating procedure will also be devised to prevent such incidents in the future. He said a mechanism to remotely monitor pressure gauges of tanks has to be put in place.
The hospital is among the two big civic-run hospitals in Nashik with a steady supply of oxygen and has been treating critical patients. It was only on March 31 that the hospital had operationalized the oxygen tank through a Pune-based Indian subsidiary of a Japanese company with the capacity of 13,000 litres of liquid oxygen through a tender for next 10 years with assured supply.
Expressing condolences to the kin of the deceased, Nasik collector Suraj Mandhare said the truck belonged to a private vendor. “It appears that technicians tried to fix the valve when low pressure caused the leakage. This led to deaths of 22 critical patients who were on ventilator support.”
The leader of opposition in the legislative council, Pravin Darekar of BJP, said that the Nashik municipality was responsible for negligence and demanded a case of culpable homicide be lodged against the NMC commissioner. BJP state president Chandrakant Patil said this was not the first time that such an incident had been reported in Nashik and across the state. He said that the chief minister and Maha Vikas Aghadi government must get its act together to make sure such incidents do not happen again.
Nashik Municipal Corporations is controlled by BJP.
Maharashtra is badly hit by Covid-19 and is facing a huge shortage of medical oxygen to treat Covid patients. On Wednesday, Maharashtra recorded 568 Covid-19 deaths, making it the highest number of single-day deaths reported since the start of the pandemic. As many as 519 Covid patients lost their lives a day earlier on Tuesday. On Wednesday more than 50,000 Covid patients recovered for the third day in row. The situation in Mumbai remained stable, with fewer than 8,000 new cases for the third day.
Meanwhile starting 8 pm on Thursday, the state has tightened restrictions further allowing only govt employees, medical personnel, and persons who are specially abled or in need of medical treatment on metro, mono, and local trains. Only 15% attendance has been allowed in govt offices except those involved in Covid-19 management. Establishments under essential services categories like pet shops, data centres, cargo offices, and petrol pumps will work at 50% capacity. Banks, insurance offices, and advocates offices to function at 15% of their workforce or five persons whichever is more. Only 25 persons are allowed in marriage ceremonies with a two-hour single event only. Domestic help is allowed to work as per current guidelines. Public and private buses will continue to ply only 50% seating capacity only and controlled and stringent intercity and inter-district travel by public transport has been kicked in.
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