A major rift has come to the fore in Goa’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government, between Chief Minister Pramod Sawant and Health Minister Vishwajit Rane. Rane has said Sawant might be “misguided” in the case of the deaths at Goa Medical College and Hospital (GMCH), on the night of Monday-Tuesday. He has called for a High Court probe and said these deaths could have been caused “due to oxygen shortage”.
The 48 Covid deaths at GMCH on Tuesday, made the total toll in the state 75 deaths. According to news reports, the CM said they had asked oxygen suppliers in the state to “ensure GMCH got its supply in 25 minutes. We have also asked the supplier to ensure a minimum of 55 trolleys of oxygen and 600 jumbo cylinders. The supplier has been asked to speed up, and additional vehicles and drivers are being provided to ensure that oxygen reaches GMCH within 25 minutes, only then can the pressure be maintained.” Questioned about his colleague health minister Rane’s claims that the 26 deaths at GMCH could be due to oxygen shortage, Sawant told media persons, “How many patients died because of only drop in oxygen levels or other reasons is something only the doctors can say. I am not an expert.”
Rane has been openly critical of CM Sawant’s handling of the Covid-19 situation in Goa, a few days ago, when the CM announced the 15-day “curfew”, Rane told media persons that the restrictions “should have come much earlier” and that perhaps this “is one of those cases where we have made some error in judgment.” There has been an alarming surge in Covid-19 cases, in Goa, but the 15-day curfew was announced only on Sunday and is in place till May 23. According to Livemint, the Goa government has made it mandatory for non-residents entering the state to carry “a Covid-19 negative certificate or a vaccination certificate.”
Now, Rane has called out his own CM’s response to the tragic death of 26 patients in one night in what is reportedly Goa’s largest Covid facility. According to Indian Express, CM Sawant, visited the Covid-19 wards at GMCH onTuesday, and later at a meeting with hospital officials, reportedly said “a delay in oxygen supply may have led to a drop in pressure in the central supply at the hospital,” however, “adding that it could not be said if the deaths were due to it.” The GMCH Dean S M Bandekar told the media that “We have to obtain the details (of the causes).”
In an affidavit filed in the High Court of Bombay at Goa on Tuesday, it was reported that the Goa government stated on record that “the Centre had increased its oxygen allocation from 11 MT to 26 MT, and that it procured 35 MT from suppliers — against a need of 55 MT per day.” The High Court also asked the Dean, GMCH, and Director of Health Services on Tuesday to file affidavits stating the position of oxygen supply at the hospital and three other state-run hospitals by Wednesday, reported IE. The affidavit must “indicate whether lack of oxygen supply continues to be the cause for any casualties”.
According to news reports Rane has said while GMCH needed 1,200 jumbo oxygen cylinders on Monday, it got only 400. He said, “I think the CM needs to inquire into the causes behind the deaths between 2 am and 6 am and question the three nodal officers (appointed to oversee GMCH functioning)… The High Court can also set up an expert committee to inquire into this. In fact it is better if the High Court does it…. Let the High Court order an inquiry into the entire Covid management at GMCH. I have no problem because my conscience is clear… I think someone has misguided him (Sawant) or misinterpreted something.”
Goa reported 3,124 new cases Tuesday, taking its total active caseload to 32,836.
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