At least 22 people have died at a hospital in India’s western Maharashtra state after an oxygen leak caused a serious disruption to patient supplies, the region’s health minister has said.
Many Indian hospitals are already running short on oxygen supplies as the country battles a dramatic surge in Covid-19 infections, with a record 295,000 new cases and 2,000 deaths reported on Wednesday.
The leak occurred in the city of Nashik, which is among the areas in India hit hardest by the pandemic.
“Patients who were on ventilators at the hospital in Nashik have died,” Minister Rajesh Tope said in comments broadcast on Indian TV.
“The leakage was spotted at the tank supplying oxygen to these patients. The interrupted supply could be linked to the deaths of the patients in the hospital.”
Footage purportedly filmed at the scene and posted online showed people wearing masks amid thick white clouds billowing out of oxygen storage tanks on Wednesday morning.
Patients being supplied with oxygen are among the dead at the Dr Zakir Hussain Hospital in the Nashik district, local administrator Suraj Mandhare told reporters.
The hospital’s supply was interrupted after a tanker leaked while the storage units were being filled.
A containment operation was launched, and Tope has announced a Maharashtra government investigation into the incident.
On Tuesday, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi admitted in a televised address that the oxygen supply situation in the country is currently a “problem.”
Modi spoke as some public hospitals in the capital Delhi said they had just eight to 24 hours’ worth of oxygen left, while some private medical institutions said their supplies were down to five hours.
The neighboring state of Haryana has ordered police protection for all oxygen tankers amid reports of looting by some families fighting to save their sick relatives, according to Reuters.
The current spread of Covid-19 in India is thought to have been helped by an indigenous variant of the virus containing two mutations in its spike protein, which appear to make it more easily transmissible.
Think your friends would be interested? Share this story!