Maharashtra is in the throes of a raging coronavirus outbreak that threatens to overwhelm the state’s healthcare infrastructure. More than 50,000 new cases have been reported daily in the last couple of weeks. The crisis has been compounded by the Maha Vikas Aghadi’s inept handling of the pandemic. Be it the squandering of crucial and life-saving gas such as oxygen recently or the conflagrations that have engulfed the state’s many hospitals, the Maharashtra government has demonstrated its incompetence in getting a handle on the situation.
Here’s the list of 4 completely avoidable incidents that took place in Maharashtra in the last few months.
Fire breaks out at Vijay Vallabh Covid Care hospital in Mumbai’s Virar, 13 dead
At least 13 patients have died at Vijay Vallabh Covid Care hospital in Virar West, Mumbai after a massive fire broke out in its Intensive Care Unit (ICU) in the wee hours of April 23 (Friday). The Covid-19 patients died after inhaling toxic fumes.
“13 people have died after a fire broke out in the Intensive Care Unit around 3 am today. 21 patients, including those in critical condition, have been shifted to another hospital,” Dr Dilip Shah, an official at Vijay Vallabh COVID care hospital, said.
According to reports, after 3 AM, the fire started in the air conditioning unit of the hospital’s ICU, where, as many as 17 patients were being treated for the infection. After the fire broke, the Vasai Virar Corporation fire brigade reached the spot and doused the fire. However, until then, 13 people have lost their lives to the fire.
Speaking on the incident, Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope made a controversial statement, alleging that the fire in Virar hospital was not a national news.
“We will talk about oxygen supply. We will speak about shortages of remdesivir. We will also talk about the incident(Virar Hospital blaze), though it is not a national news,” Tope said.
Oxygen leak from a tanker in Nasik left 24 patients dead
The hospitals and COVID care centres across the country are grappling with the scarcity of medicinal oxygen as the number of coronavirus cases surge. Amidst acute shortages of oxygen, an oxygen tanker leaked while being filled at Dr Zakir Hussain Hospital, Nashik.
Ventilators in the hospital were stopped for at least 30 minutes due to the oxygen deprivation caused by the tank leak. This temporary suspension of ventilators led to the death of 24 people, who had died because of oxygen deprivation.
10 COVID-19 patients reportedly die after fire breaks out at Bhandup mall in Mumbai which had COVID-19 hospital on the top floor
Last month, a massive fire broke out at a mall in Mumbai’s Bhandup area, which also accommodated a COVID-19 hospital, Sunrise Hospital, on its top floor. At the time the fire broke out as many as 76 COVID-19 patients were admitted to the hospital, which was located on the third floor of a mall. 10 people, all coronavirus patients, had reportedly died in the incident.
CNN News 18 accessed documents that showed Dreams Mall, Bhandup, the mall where the hospital was located had flouted fire safety norms. There were no fire safety norms at the mall. Earlier, BMC had carried out an assessment on Mumbai malls regarding the fire safety norms, and Dream Mall was amongst the 29 malls which were declared unsafe as it did not comply with the fire safety norms.
Blaze at a District General Hospital in Maharashtra claims the lives of 10 infants
Earlier in January, 10 newborn babies aged between 1 to 2 months lost their lives in a fire that broke out at Sick Newborn Care Unit (SNCU) at Bhandara District General Hospital. There were a total of seventeen babies kept in the Unit, but only seven of them could be rescued.
Most newborns died due to suffocation. One baby had fatal injuries, and two others had minor burn injuries. The rest inhaled a lot of smoke, a doctor at the hospital later said.
Maharashtra government must answers as to who is responsible for the loss of lives in these incidents
In the last four months, there have been four hospital mishaps reported in Maharashtra. The incidents have led to the loss of lives, many of whom were COVID-19 patients and suffering from complications caused by the coronavirus. Questions need to be asked as to who is answerable for these avoidable incidents and the corresponding loss of lives.
While the Maharashtra government had displayed eager alacrity to deflect criticism and pin the blame of its bungled handling of the coronavirus crisis on the centre, it has not shown the same zeal in fixing accountability over the routine incidents of hospital mishaps. Instead, the health minister of state passes callous and flippant remarks that such incidents are of no national importance.
Who is responsible for these incidents? Will the government ever punish them? Is it even thinking of fixing accountability? What is it doing to ensure such mishaps do not take place in future? There must be accountability. Heads must roll. In all their anger and grief, Maharashtrians at least deserve to know the answers to these questions.