The Delhi government has formed a four-member panel to look into deaths due to oxygen shortage during the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said on Friday.

Sisodia added that the committee of medical experts will begin functioning as soon as it is approved by Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal.

“The committee will meet twice a week and look into each case to decide what the cause of a patient’s death was,” Sisodia said. “In case the cause of death was the shortage of oxygen, the government will give Rs 5 lakh as compensation to the patient’s family.”

Meanwhile, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal held a meeting with experts to discuss preparations for a possible third wave of Covid-19. He is scheduled to hold another meeting at 3 pm on Friday and address a press conference at 5 pm.

Delhi has been witnessing a decline in cases, but the government is adopting a cautious approach in easing curbs. The government has extended the lockdown till June 7, but allowed manufacturing and construction activities to resume from May 31.

On Thursday, the Capital recorded 487 new coronavirus cases, taking its total count of infections to 14,27,926 since the pandemic broke out in January 2020. Delhi’s toll rose to 24,447 as it recorded 45 deaths in the last day. The city’s positivity rate dropped to 0.61%.

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India struggled with a grave oxygen crisis in the second wave of the pandemic. The acute shortages of the life-saving gas and medicines forced families and friends of patients to plead for help on social media. Hospitals sent out SOS messages as their oxygen stocks ran dangerously low.

The country’s oxygen crisis could have been partly diffused had India utilised the past year to create localised solutions in the form of small-scale oxygen generation plants within hospitals on a war footing.

It takes just four to six weeks to install a Pressure Swing Adsorption oxygen generator at a hospital, said industry players and government officials. The average cost comes to just Rs 1.25 crore, based on the Centre’s outlay of Rs 201 crore for 162 oxygen plants.

But an investigation by showed that the central government took eight months to float a tender, and six months later, PSA oxygen plants were operational in only five of the 60 hospitals we called. Hours after the report was published, the health ministry admitted only 33 of the 162 PSA oxygen plants it had commissioned had been installed.

HC issues notice to Delhi government, Centre

Meanwhile, the Delhi High Court on Friday issued notice to Kejriwal’s government and the Centre, seeking their response to a petition for a Central Bureau of Investigation into the deaths of 21 patients at the city’s Jaipur Golden Hospital in April , PTI reported.

The petition, filed by the families of the patients, alleged that the cause of their deaths was respiratory failure due to oxygen shortage and not co-morbidities as the Delhi government claimed in a report.

Justice Rekha Palli directed the Centre and the Delhi government to respond to the plea by August 20.