India Covid crisis: 24 dead after hospital runs out of oxygen in Karnataka

Twenty-four people, including Covid-19 patients, have died at a hospital in India’s southern state of Karnataka in the space of just 24 hours amid a shortage in oxygen supplies.

The deaths were reported from the Chamarajanagar district of the state. Officials have admitted there was a shortage overnight but said that not all the deaths were “necessarily” due to oxygen scarcity, and that investigations were ongoing.

“It’s not appropriate to say that all the 24 deaths happened due to oxygen shortage. These deaths had happened from Sunday morning to this (Monday) morning. The oxygen shortage happened in the wee hours of Monday — from 12.30am to 2.30am,” said Chamarajanagar district in-charge minister S Suresh Kumar, according to the Press Trust of India news agency.

Mr Kumar said he had ordered a death audit report and that it would reveal the exact cause of death.

“As per doctors’ report, 12 died due to lack of oxygen and others succumbed to various co-morbidities and underlying medical conditions,” Chamarajanagar deputy commissioner Dr MR Ravi told The Times of India. He said while 23 people died in a district hospital, one person died at a private facility.

Karnataka chief minister BS Yediyurappa has spoken to the district collector and called an emergency meeting on Tuesday.

Angry family members gathered outside the hospital and alleged that there was a shortage of oxygen.

Mr Kumar said he has told officials to find a permanent solution for the supply of oxygen to the district. “There indeed is a problem in Mysuru (Mysore) but that should not hinder the supply of oxygen from Mysuru to Chamarajanagar,” he said, according to PTI.

The administration in neighbouring Mysuru district said there was no delay on its part and a supply of 250 oxygen cylinders was sent to Chamarajanagar by Sunday midnight.

Karnataka reported 37,733 new Covid-19 cases in the last 24 hours and 217 deaths. With 368,147 new cases over the past 24 hours, India’s total infections stand at 19.93 million.

Several hospitals across the country have reported a shortage of medical supplies and beds. Twelve patients, including a doctor, died amid an oxygen shortage at a hospital in Delhi on Saturday.

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