COVID-19 situation critical in Gujarat: Acute shortage of beds, oxygen in hospitals; queues at crematoriums

With pandemic raging, public health care system in Gujarat seems to have collapsed as evident from lack of basic facilities like availability of oxygen, ventilators, and even beds in govt hospitals

Representative Image (Photo Courtesy: PTI)
Representative Image (Photo Courtesy: PTI)

Nachiketa Desai

With COVID-19 patients dying for want of oxygen, Ahmedabad Medical Association (AMA) has sent an SOS to Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani to reserve 100 per cent oxygen produced in the state for hospitals.

In a letter to the Rupani, the AMA urged the government to direct all oxygen manufacturing units in the state to stop supplying oxygen to industries and supply it only to the hospitals treating COVID-19 patients.

The manufacturers had recently hiked the price of oxygen cylinders by 60 per cent following sudden a surge in its demand following the spike in COVID-19 cases since mid-March.

Prof. Indrani Bannerjee of Central University, Gandhinagar was among the critically ill COVID-19 patient who died last week as she was turned down by government civil hospital in the state capital Gandhinagar and a private hospital in Ahmedabad saying there was no oxygen and ICU facility available.

The 1,200-bed Ahmedabad Civil Hospital, which has been converted into a COVID-19 hospital, is full and patients in critical conditions were being given oxygen inside the ambulance vans in which they arrived at the hospital.

Due to shortage of beds, COVID-19 patients are lying on the floor in government hospitals at Ahmedbad, Vadodara, Surat, Rajkot, Bhavnagar and Surendranagar to get treated, according to reports in Gujarati newspapers, even as such videos are going viral on social media.

The public health care system in Gujarat seems to have collapsed as evident from the lack of basic facilities like availability of oxygen, ventilators, and even beds in government hospitals.

The sudden surge in COVID-19 patients in all major cities, and now spreading to mofussil areas as well, has forced the municipal corporations of Ahmedabad, municipalities, district and taluka panchayat bodies to designate all the hospitals under them as COVID-19 treatment centres.

In the wake of the alarming spread of the pandemic in the state capital, the State Election Commission has postponed indefinitely the Gandhinagar Municipal Corporation election scheduled for April 18.

The pandemic has claimed 4,922 lives in Gujarat till April 13 and the number is growing by the day. Over 3,60,000 people have so far tested positive for COVID-19.

There is a long waiting list of bodies to be cremated in public cremation grounds in Surat and Ahmedabad. There is a waiting period of five to six hours for each body brought for cremation.

In view of severe shortage of hospital beds, the state and civic body authorities have advised people not to rush to hospitals and seek treatment at their homes if the condition of the patient is not critical.

Besides the night curfew imposed in 20 cities from 8 p.m. to 6 p.m., scores of residential colonies have been declared as containment zones in all major towns.

The senior secondary and higher secondary school and university examinations have been postponed for an indefinite period.

Most agriculture produce marketing yards of north Gujarat and Saurashtra regions have decided to remain closed for two weeks and so have some markets in Rajkot, Bhavnagar, and Jamnagar cities.

Many manufacturing units in the industrial estates around Rajkot, Jamnagar, Bhavnagar, Vadodara, Bharuch and Surat too are closed, rendering thousands of daily wage labourers and skilled workers, mostly migrants from other states, jobless.

Gujarat high court Bar Association wants advisory committee to monitor and guide government’s COVID-19 combat action plan

With the Gujarat High Court taking up suo motu PIL, the High Court Advocates’s association has sought to intervene in the matter requesting the high court to order setting up of an advisory committee of professsionals, excluding government official, to monitor and guide the state government in handing the COVID-19 crisis.

Moving an intervention plea, The Gujarat High Court Bar Association chaged the state government with lacking foresight and transparency in the matter of managing the COVID-19 crisis.

In their application, the Bar Association urged the High Court to set up a standing advisory committee comprising virologists, epidomologists, statisticians, medical professionals and members from NGOs. The government to be told to provide the advisory committee with all the relevant information about the availability of hospital beds, oxygen, life-saving drug, and measures proposed by the government for the containment of the pandemic.

Pointing out how red-tapism and sloppy rules were causing deaths of critically ill COVID-19 patients, the Bar Association cited the case of Prof. Indrani Banerjee of Gandhinagar Central University who was refused admission in hospital because she was brought there in a private vehicle and not by EMRI 108 ambulance.

Charging the government with obfuscating facts on the availability of Remdesivir injection, oxygen, hospital beds, ICU facility and even on casualty figures, the Bar Association wanted all the information relevant to COVID-19 management posted on the official website.

The intervention petition has also made some suggestions such as converting the buildings of closed schools and colleges into isolation centres for COVID-19 infected persons.

The Gujarat High Court is scheduled to hear the matter today.

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Published: 14 Apr 2021, 7:54 PM