- Vaibhav Singh
Zero COVID-19 Deaths Due to Oxygen Shortage in India: Central Government in Parliament
India is one of the most severely affected countries due to the COVID-19 virus. The devastation caused by the second wave of Covid-19 can be easily gauged by the numbers of citizens who lost lives due to shortage of medical supplies and beds, even in the biggest hospitals in the country's capital. To put it into perspective, of the total lives lost during the COVID-19 pandemic, 50% amounted to deaths during the peak of the second wave, that is, between the months of April and June.
Now that the country is slowly easing the restrictions because of the falling COVID-19 cases and deaths, another controversy has erupted after the central government denied any deaths due to the shortage of oxygen during the second wave while answering a question in the parliament.
This statement is not only shocking but also depicts the lack of empathy towards the citizens and their families who struggled to get treated against the COVID-19 virus. The unprecedented surge in the demand of medical oxygen as compared to the first wave was a pressing issue and also widely discussed on most national and regional news channels. The new Minister of State for Health also said that health is the state subject and states and UT regularly report to the Union Health Ministry, however, no deaths due to lack of oxygen have been specifically reported by states or UTs’. While this may be true in terms of facts, the central government is liable to bring the reality on the table rather than denying any deaths citing insufficient data that the statement is based on or the fact that it cannot transfer the responsibility to the states.
News of hospitals running out of oxygen, shortage of supplies filled newspapers, online portals and broadcast media. Some hospitals only admitted patients who carried their own oxygen cylinders with them. In addition, the courts had to intervene and direct the central and state governments to ration oxygen and supply them where most needed.
Stating zero deaths due to shortage of oxygen in parliament is no short of whitewashing the facts and extremely insensitive approach by the centre. The MODI led BJP government at the centre and few other states like Madhya Pradesh and Bihar have accepted that no deaths were reported due to the shortage of oxygen. The way the government easily bypasses the need for facts, tongue in cheek reputation with the news media and dormant opposition clearly shows another issue that’s going to die down with time.