On Monday night, disruption in oxygen supply led to a harrowing incident in which at least 11 people died at the SVR Ruia Government Hospital, Tirupati. Officials have reported 11 deaths, of which nine were COVID patients. However, families have indicated that the number of fatalities could be twice as many. Shocking visuals of the hospital surfaced on social media showing the chaos and panic as oxygen supply to patients was disrupted.
While families of the patients alleged that oxygen supply was disrupted for about 25-45 minutes, the District Collector said that the lag was only five minutes. According to his statement, there was a delay in reloading the oxygen cylinder causing the pressure to drop temporarily. His statement, however, did not satisfy the families nor the people on social media who saw the visuals from Monday night. Andhra Pradesh government COVID dashboard shows that SVR Ruia Hospital has a total bed capacity of 935 beds. Of these, 600 are oxygenated beds and all are occupied.
Incidents like Ruia Hospital, are unfortunately becoming common in Andhra Pradesh. Only last week, 19 COVID patients died due to lack of oxygen supply and low oxygen pressure in Anantapur and Kurnool.
Outrage against the state government seems to be growing due to the mismanagement of COVID in Andhra Pradesh. The feeling among the general public is that patients are dying as a result of government negligence. Adding to the burden of the second wave, reports suggest that the Andhra Pradesh government has struggled to satisfy the oxygen needs of the patients. Social media is filled with SOS requests from across the state with people desperate for oxygen, ventilators, and medication.
The main opposition in Andhra Pradesh, Telugu Desam Party has demanded the resignation of Jagan Reddy for the inability of the state government in handling the COVID crisis.
Chief Minister Jagan Reddy expressed grief over the incident and has ordered an inquiry into the incident. However, the families of the victims await a response from the government. The Chief Minister is yet to promise compensation for the families of the deceased and assure any support to the victims.
Andhra Pradesh has witnessed more than 13 lakh cases of COVID since the beginning of the pandemic and over 8,700 deaths. Meanwhile, only 2000 people were vaccinated on Monday. In comparison, Telangana vaccinated over 93,000 people on the same day.