New Delhi: Centre on Tuesday admitted that shortage of oxygen during COVID 19 caused deaths at Sri Venkateswara Ramnarain Ruia (SVRR) hospital in Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh.

This is the first time the central government accepted deaths due to a shortage of oxygen.

"As per Andhra Pradesh government's communication, some patients who were on ventilator support at Sri Venkateswara Ramnarain Ruia (SVRR) hospital, died while undergoing treatment for COVID-19 on May 10, 2021," said Dr. Bharati Pawar, Union Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare said while replying to a question from Telugu Desam Party MP, Kanakamedla Ravindra Kumar, in parliament.

She said preliminary inquiry reveals that it appears that the interval between the leveling out 10KL oxygen tank and the switching on the backup manifold system of the hospital resulted in the drop in pressure.

The drop in the pressure in the oxygen lines led to insufficient oxygen being available for the patients mainly on ventilator support.

On May 10, eleven patients died after oxygen supply was disrupted at SVR Ruia Government General Hospital in Tirupati. Hospital authorities claimed that the supply was disrupted only for five minutes. However, the families alleged there was no oxygen for 45 minutes. Videos of patients dying and families crying helplessly had shaken Andhra Pradesh during the second wave.

Earlier, the MoHFW on July 20 said that there were no deaths due to lack of oxygen during the second COVID-19 wave in the country.

"Health is a state subject. Detailed guidelines for reporting of deaths have been issued by the Union health ministry to all states and Union Territories. Accordingly, all states and Union Territories report cases and deaths to the Union health ministry on a regular basis. However, no deaths due to lack of oxygen have been specifically reported by states and Union Territories," said Dr. Bharati Pawar, while replying to Congress leader K.C Venugopal's question in the Rajya Sabha.

On Tuesday, Lav Aggarwal, Joint Secretary at MoHFW said only one state 'suspect' that deaths happened due to shortage of oxygen, while many other states said that there is no such incident.

Sumit Kumar Jha

Sumit Kumar Jha is currently a multimedia journalist with Newsmeter. An alumnus of Hyderabad Central University and Amity University, he has interned with The New Indian Express and CGNet Swara. Sumit has also worked with video production houses in Mumbai as an assistant director in shows like 21 Sarfrosh for Discovery Jeet. He is specialised in Video Production. He was also the contributor at PARI network. Hailing from rural Bihar has spent his childhood shifting from places and people. Growing up he felt the need to document the lives and dreams of rural India. A lover of visual storytelling goes around the cities to search for Stories. He primarily reports on civic, human interest and data stories.

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