New Delhi: The Central government on Tuesday informed the Rajya Sabha that no deaths due to lack of oxygen has been specifically reported by states/Union territories during the second wave of COVID-19.
Responding to a question by Congress MP KC Venugopal on whether a large number of COVID-19 patients died on roads and hospitals due to acute shortage of oxygen in the second wave, Minister of State for Health Dr Bharati Pravin Pawar pointed out that health is a state subject and accordingly all states/UTs report cases and deaths to the Union Health Ministry on a regular basis.
In a written reply, she stated that the Government of India has supported the States and undertook a series of actions including provisioning medical oxygen.
"Health is a State subject. Detailed guidelines for reporting of deaths have been issued by Union Health Ministry to all states/UTs. Accordingly, all states/UTs report cases and deaths to Union Health Ministry on a regular basis. However, no deaths due to lack of oxygen has been specifically reported by states/UTs. However, Government of India has supported the States and undertook a series of actions including provisioning medical oxygen, and other consumables to ensure clinical care of COVID-19 patients in view of steep rise of COVID-19 trajectory in the country during April- May 2021," read the reply.
Dr Pawar highlighted that the medical oxygen demand in the country during the second wave peaked to nearly 9000 Metric Tonnes (MT) as compared to 3095 MT during the first wave.
"The supply of medical oxygen to hospitals is determined by contractual arrangements between the concerned hospital and the medical oxygen supplier. However, due to unprecedented surge in demand of medical oxygen during the second wave - the demand in the country peaked to nearly 9000 MT as compared to 3095 MT during the first wave - the Central Government had to step in to facilitate equitable distribution to the States. A dynamic and transparent framework for allocation of medical oxygen in consultation with States/UTs and all the stakeholders such as relevant Ministries, manufacturers/suppliers of liquid oxygen etc. was prepared," she stated.
Responding to another question, the Union Minister said that there are no reports of concealing of death by the State/UT government.
"There are no reports of concealing of death by the State/UT government. However, some of states based on reconciliation of mortality data have revised their figures. Such states have been advised to reconcile their data correctly in terms of dates and districts so as to get correct picture of the pandemic," Dr Pawar stated.