Ground reality belies UP govt’s claim of sufficient beds, drugs for COVID patients; crematoriums overwhelmed
COVID patients across UP are struggling to get hospital beds and life-saving medicines. When someone dies, their relatives have to queue up at crematoriums or burial grounds to perform last rites
“Ram Rajya laane wali sarkar khud Ram bharose hai,” shouted Anurag Sharma, a BJP worker whose father tested positive for COVID on Tuesday but could not be admitted to a hospital despite all efforts made by Sharma.
“The oxygen level has gone down. Please admit my father even in private hospital. I will pay the fee,” he told Lucknow CMO Sanjay Bhatnagar on telephone. “I do not have money but will arrange for it. I will sell my land in the village and get money. I need to save my father’s life,” he told the CMO.
Being in BJP and working on an ad hoc in the party office, he is in touch with some senior leaders. “A few leaders assured me that they will help and I believe they might have called up concerned officials too, but till now, I am yet to get a hospital bed for my father,” he said.
Sharma’s case is not an isolated case. There are thousands of COVID patients across Uttar Pradesh who are struggling to get hospital beds and life-saving medicines. When someone succumbs to the disease, their relatives are forced to queue up at crematoriums or burial grounds for several hours to perform the last rites.
- Rajiv Tiwari, a resident of Indira Nagar tested corona positive on April 11. He is in home isolation. His oxygen level has dropped to below 90. He is waiting for an ambulance to take him to a hospital for the last three days. “I am told that a hospital bed has been allotted to me, but there is no ambulance to take me to hospital,” he said.
- The oxygen level of Kishan Gupta (24) has dropped to 51. He is in Balrampur hospital and his family wants him to be shifted to a L3 hospital so that he can be put on a ventilator, but they are struggling to arrange a bed. Kishan’s father had died of COVID-19 on April 9.
- Girija Shankar, a resident of Ashiana, died in Ram Manohar Lohia hospital on Tuesday. He had a breathing problem and was suspected to be COVID positive. His family waited for an ambulance for over 24 hours so that his body could be taken to the cremation ground. Finally, they had to hire a private vehicle.
No shortage of beds, claims CM Yogi Adityanath
UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has said that there is no shortage of beds and oxygen for COVID patients in all 75 districts of the state. “We have sufficient beds and more non-COVID hospitals are turning into Covid hospitals. Even private hospitals dedicated for COVID treatment cannot refuse to admit patients,” he said in a meeting.
In this dire situation, even getting medicines for patients who are in home isolation is proving to be a tough task. Either the medicine is not available in the open market or if it is there, it is available at a premium.
- A woman (who does not want to give her name) purchased Remdesivir, a crucial drug for treatment of COVID-19, at Rs 12,000 per vial against the printed price of Rs 4500. “I was told that the drug is out of stock. I had no option but to spend the extra money,” she said. She needs 12 vials of the injection.
- A journalist’s wife tested positive and is in home isolation. She was advised Covifor. “This medicine is out of stock and one chemist said he can arrange for it at Rs 4000, though its cost of less than Rs 1500,” he said.
- Chandra Bhan, a chemist in Lucknow, said that even basic medicine like Zinc tablets, Vit D and Vit C are in short supply. The demand for these medicines is high because government has advised people to take it.
All medicines available, insists Chief Secretary R K Tiwari
Chief Secretary R K Tiwari claims that there is a sufficient supply of Remdisivir. On the CM’s initiative, 25,000 vials were flown to Lucknow from Ahmedabad on Wednesday, he insisted, adding that there was no hoarding of medicines and all life saving drugs are easily available in the market.
As people are neither getting medical care nor medicines, there is a spike in the number of fatalities because of COVID. On Wednesday, UP recorded 61 deaths while it shot up to 108 on Thursday. This has led to people queuing up at cremation grounds and graveyards to perform the last rites of their family members who have succumbed to COVID.
- In Kanpur, 35 new temporary platforms have been set up on Bithoor-Sidhnath Ghat stretch along the Ganga to cremate bodies that are piling up at cremation sites at Bhagwatdas, Bhaironghat and Sidhnath ghats. Three electric crematoriums at these sites are also working overtime.
- In the past two weeks, these crematoriums received 125 bodies. On Wednesday, 20 bodies were cremated in the electric crematorium.
- In Lucknow, people were asked on Wednesday to arrange for the wood themselves. There is scarcity wood, in-charge of the Bhainsakund crematorium said.
- A report from Allahabad says that in the last one week, almost 850 cremations and 135 burials have taken place.
- Corrugated tin sheets were installed along the road to obstruct the view at cremation ground in Lucknow.
There’s enough wood now, say Nagar Nigam officials
Nagar Nigam officials said in Lucknow that though earlier there was a shortage of wood in cremation grounds, the problem has been solved. “A portion of the cremation ground has been covered to separate it from non-COVID cremation,” Municipal Commissioner Ajay Dwivedi claimed with regard to installation of corrugated tin sheets.