Doctors and staff at a hospital in Gurugram allegedly abandoned patients who had died of Covid-19, NDTV reported on Wednesday. The news came to light after a video showing families entering the abandoned facility went viral.
Six Covid-19 patients had died after the hospital ran out of oxygen on April 30, the hospital said.
In the video, the camera pans around Kirti Hospital in Sector 56 to show that there were no staff, including doctors, with patients left on stretchers. An unidentified voice is then heard saying that the patients were dead.
“Neither the doctor is here, nor the chemist...” another voice is heard saying in the video. “...no one at the reception. There is not even a guard.” A few more voices are heard questioning how the patients were left by themselves.
“How can you allow doctors to run away like this?” a man is heard asking two policemen, according to NDTV. “Only someone who loses their loved ones can understand how we feel.” The family members of the patients who died accused the hospital of negligence and claimed there was a shortage.
However, hospital authorities said that staff was present at the facility that day but were “hiding in the canteen” as they feared that the families would attack them. Hospital Director Swati Rathore told NDTV that they had informed every government official from 2 pm on the day the Covid-19 patients died about the depleting oxygen supplies.
“We had informed relatives of the patients from 4 pm to shift their patients due to the oxygen crisis,” Rathore said. “But no help came and there were six casualties around 11 pm.”
Rathore claimed that she had asked the hospital staff to hide in the canteen after an incident on April 24, where relatives of some patients had beaten up some of her employees. A first information was registered in the matter.
“All 15 to 20 staff members resumed duties as soon as police arrived at the spot on Friday night,” Rathore said.
Meanwhile, the Gurugram district administration claimed that the hospital was not registered as a Covid-19 hospital and that an investigation was on into the deaths. It also said that the videos were from last week and that no Covid-19 patients had died at the hospital on Wednesday.
“With reference to the videos of Kriti Hospital being shared on social media, we would like to clarify, as confirmed by Dr Swati Rathore from the management team of the hospital, that there has been no casualty at the facility last night,” Deputy Commissioner Gurugram district Yash Garg tweeted.
“We appeal to citizens to verify information and exercise caution on social media,” it added. “These are precarious times and the spread of misinformation can lead to further distress amongst people.”
Garg also said that the district authorities monitored Covid-designated facilities very closely and that the hospital should not have admitted the patients. “Secondly, the number of admitted patients was much higher,” he told NDTV. “So whether it was sick patients who died or whether it was the oxygen crunch. At what time the SOS was raised and how the situation was handled will only come out in the inquiry report.”
Meanwhile, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi tweeted a video. “This is murder. And cover up!” he tweeted. “My condolences to the families of the victims.”
On Wednesday, Gurugram reported the highest number of Covid-19 deaths, with 15 patients dying in 24 hours. With this, the city’s toll rose to 537. The case count in the city reached 1,42,894 after 4,740 new infections being reported, according to The Times of India.
India, which is reeling under a surge of Covid-19 infections and fatalities, is struggling to keep up with the rising demand of medical supplies. The second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic has led to an unprecedented rise in the requirement for beds, ventilators, oxygen supplies and drugs as hospitals struggle to hold together the country’s healthcare infrastructure.
The country on Thursday registered 4,12,262 new coronavirus cases, taking the tally in the country to 2,10,77,410 since the pandemic broke out in January 2020. This is the highest rise in daily cases and the second instance after May 1, when the count rose by more than 4 lakh. The toll climbed by 3,980 deaths to 23,01,68. Active cases in the country stood at 35,66,398.