oxygen tank leakage causes death of 22 patients

Disruption in the supply of medical oxygen has killed at least 22 patients in a hospital in western India’s Maharashtra state, an official said.

Nashik district’s collector on Wednesday said an oxygen tanker leaked outside a hospital in the city, halting its supply for about half an hour.

“The oxygen tank had a leak while refilling, and that caused deaths of 22 patients,” Suraj Mandhare, an official in the Nashik district of Maharashtra, told Reuters news agency.

Media reports said all the victims were on ventilators and in need of constant oxygen supply in the hospital dedicated for COVID-19 patients.

Mandhar told The Associated Press the oxygen supply has since been resumed to nearly 150 other patients in the hospital.

Fire officer Sanjay Bairagi said the leakage was plugged by the fire service within 15 minutes, but there was supply disruption in the Zakir Hussain Hospital.

Television images showed white fumes spreading in the hospital area, causing panic. India’s NDTV network reported that multiple patients were being transferred to other hospitals in Nashik.

Maharashtra is India’s worst-hit state by the latest surge in coronavirus cases in the country, accounting for more than a quarter of daily infections.

In recent days, India has been on edge about oxygen supplies with thousands of patients in need of breathing support and supplies running short amid record surge in cases.

India’s health ministry reported 295,041 new cases on Wednesday with 2,023 deaths, taking total fatalities to 182,553. India has since the start of the pandemic recorded 15.6 million cases, the second highest behind the United States.

An oxygen tanker leaks at hospital premises where COVID-19 patients died due to lack of oxygen in Nashik [ANI via REUTERS]
An oxygen tanker leaks at hospital premises where COVID-19 patients died due to lack of oxygen in Nashik [ANI via REUTERS]

Newly reported cases have exceeded 200,000 each day for a week – with people being infected faster than they can be tested.

In a televised address to the nation on Tuesday night, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tried to boost spirits by saying the government and the pharmaceutical industry were stepping up efforts to meet the shortages of hospital beds, oxygen, tests and vaccines.

But, he admitted, the “surge in infections has come like a storm and a big battle lies ahead”.