As many as 74 coronavirus patients died at the Goa Medical College and Hospital in the past four days, NDTV reported on Friday. The deaths at Goa’s biggest Covid-19 facility were allegedly due to a lack of medical oxygen. However, the state government has refuted this claim.

Former Deputy Chief Minister Vijay Sardesai said that 13 people died on Friday between 1 am and 6 am reportedly due to “logistical issues”. On Thursday, 15 patients had died. A day before, 20 deaths were recorded and 26 coronavirus patients lost their lives on Tuesday.

Chief Minister Pramod Sawant had said the gap between the “availability of medical oxygen and its supply to Covid-19 wards” at the hospital “might have caused some issues for the patients”. He, however, claimed that there was no shortage of oxygen.

Sawant’s claim was contradictory to state Health Minister Vishwajit Rane, who had admitted that there was a shortage of oxygen at the hospital as of Monday.

Further, state Principal Secretary PK Goel had in a letter to the Centre said the state only received 66.74 metric tonnes of oxygen from Maharashtra’s Kolhapur city against the allotted 110 metric tonnes between May 1 and 10.

“It is an earnest request we should be given 22 MT [metric tonnes] per day, in place of 11 MT, for at least a week to make up for the shortfall,” Goel’s letter said.

Goa forms panel to look into oxygen supply problem

The state government on Thursday set up a committee to look into the oxygen supply problem at the hospital, reported ANI.

The three-member committee will ascertain whether the oxygen supplied to the medical facility was adequate and check the efficiency of the supply chain. The panel will also examine how oxygen was administered in the hospital and make recommendations for its improvement. It was also tasked with making recommendations for the improvement of the oxygen supply chain at the medical facility.

In an order, the government told the committee to complete its inquiry within the next three days. The order also directed Health Secretary Ravi Dhawan to provide support to the committee for the timely completion of the inquiry.

Patients cannot be allowed to die because of ‘logistical isses’: HC

Meanwhile, the Goa Bench of the Bombay High Court took up several petitions on the handling of the pandemic, reported India Today.

On Thursday, the bench said it was informed that some patients may have died because of “logistical issues”. The court said that coronavirus patients can not be allowed to die because of logistics.

“We expect the state administration to find out ways and means to overcome these logistical issues, so that precious life is not lost on account of any deficiencies in the matter of supply of oxygen to patients,” the court said.

The bench observed that despite its order to provide medical oxygen to coronavirus patients at the hospital, there were 15 deaths during the dark hours.

The High Court said the central government should ensure that the allotted quota of medical oxygen was given to the state, which has reported one of the highest positivity rates in the country at 48.1%.

The court also asked the hospital and state authorities to file a status report by 7 pm on Friday. This would include the supply of oxygen and the availability of tanks, concentrators and drivers.

Amid a surge in cases, the Goa government on Monday approved the use of anti-parasitic drug ivermectin as a preventive treatment for all adults, the state’s Health Minister Vishwajit Rane said in a Facebook post. However, the World Health Organization, the US Food and Drug Administration and even the company that produces the drug have cautioned against using it.