Kerala in the recent few days has been topping in number of new Chinese coronavirus cases. Their callousness towards the crisis is only matched by their propaganda that they’re the best in combating the virus, despite, for instance, easing lockdown restrictions to appease the Muslim community during Bakrid even as cases were climbing.
The latest spin they have added to their disinformation campaign is a statement by their health minister Veena George that there has never been a shortage of oxygen for patients which has resulted in loss of lives, no rush on hospitals, and no medical emergencies. Even a casual look at local media reports from the peak of oxygen crisis days shows how this as poorly drafted propaganda.
Contrary to what Veena George has claimed, several instances of patients losing lives due to lack of oxygen has been reported in Kerala. The horrors the relatives had to go through seeing their loved die helplessly is something that is sticking out even with the insensitive health minister trying to cover up the tragedies. The reports also include cases where ICU beds being not available in time and the unfortunate loss of life.
In May 2021, 38 year old Dhanish Kumar from Pathanamthitta district died due to delay in treatment and lack of ICU bed. Dhanish was rushed to the nearby Government hospital after it was found his oxygen levels were low, but it was informed to his relatives that there was no bed available in ICU. They were advised to move him to any nearby private hospital, but they too were not promising. Finally as they were trying to get him to General Hospital Pathanamthitta as they had offered to provide assistance with medical oxygen, he died on the way.
A 78 year old lady, Fathima from Thrissur district, died after she was made to wait in the ambulance for 4 hours for an ICU bed. In April 2021, she was brought to General Hospital after not being able to get an ICU bed in a private medical college she was first referred to. She had to face few formalities for her admission citing that covid patients were to be brought only through a specific management channel. Her relatives accused that her life could have been saved had there been no unnecessary delay. Another Fathima from Malappuram lost her life after her family could not arrange a ventilator despite three days of toiling.
In May 2021, Sali (65) from Alappuzha died due to shortage of oxygen and lack of timely treatment at Mavelikkara Taluk hospital. His relatives alleged that he was not attended for 2 hours and unfortunately he breathed his last at 5:30 AM the next day. A similar incident happened in Thrissur medical college when Nakulan, who was suffering from chronic kidney disease, was tested positive for Covid, but was made to lie on the verandah without getting proper care and treatment, and eventually died. Nakulan had himself shared his helpless state through a video.
Again in May 2021, a vlogger named Haris Ameerali shared the difficulties he had to face to obtain an ICU bed after he had tested positive for Covid and was pneumonic. He said that he had to wait for more than four hours in an ambulance and that the situation had(at that time) worsened over the days.
A very unfortunate event happened in Pathanamthitta after two persons, aged 52 and 60, had to isolate themselves in a poultry shed for two days. The health authorities responded only after the issue was reported widely in media and isolation was arranged for them in quarantine facilities.
Bhanusuthan Pillai (60), Chengannur, lost his life due to negligence from the state health department. After experiencing breathing difficulties and tested positive, his relatives chose to resort to government facilities foreseeing the huge amount they may have to pay in private hospitals. They first registered on Covid jagrata portal, and after not getting a response for hours they contacted health department officials, and they were advised to get him to the nearby first line treatment centre. But in an unbelievable turn of events, he was sent back first citing they don’t take in patients with breathing problems, and was again referred to the same first line treatment centre after some involvement by local politicians, and was sent back again citing the same exact reason as before. He died just before he was about to be taken to the nearest medical college.
Shobha (45) died in Thrissur General Hospital after her oxyegen supply was cut when the cylinder was replaced by an empty one. There was also an incident in KIMS sunrise hospital in Kasargod in May 2021 when they had to shift 8 Covid patients after it was found their oxygen storage would be exhausted by noon. As Kasargod did not have oxygen plants, they outsource from Kannur and Mangalapuram. The hospital authorities also said the health department did not respond in time to replenish oxygen supplies.
On 13 May 2021, Minister Chandrasekharan had advised people in Kasargod not to panic as shortage of medical oxygen will soon be remedied importing from Ahmedabad. This was after suppy from Mangalore was was interrupted. There were also reports of a covid patient carried on pick-up van after the hospitals were unable to provide ambulance services. In May 2021, Sabu from Kasargod died as he was brought to the hospital in an open truck, without getting any help from the authorities in arranging an ambulance.
Today, Kerala is again seeing an uptick in Covid cases with contributing to almost 50% of total new cases every day. However, the national media seems to have turned a blind eye towards what is happening in Kerala.
(Note: This article is written by guest author, Sooraj R)