Govt mishandled COVID pandemic, says parliamentary panel
Many lives could have been saved during the second wave of the Covid pandemic if containment strategies were implemented on time, a parliamentary panel has said
Many lives could have been saved during the second wave of the Covid pandemic if containment strategies were implemented on time, a parliamentary panel has said while pulling up the government for not being able to anticipate the gravity of the situation.
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health, in its 137th report presented to Rajya Sabha on Monday, said the second wave was undoubtedly marred by high cases, increased deaths, shortage of oxygen and beds in hospitals, reduced supplies of medicines and other important drugs, disruption of essential health care services, hoarding and black marketing of cylinders and medicines etc.
"The committee is of the considered view that had the Government been successful in identification of the more virulent strain of virus in the population at an early stage and suitably implemented its containment strategy, the repercussions would have been less grave and many lives could have been saved," it said.
The committee observed that India is one of the countries with the heaviest burden of COVID-19 cases in the world. The enormity of the population of the country posed a major challenge in the face of the pandemic.
With the fragile health infrastructure and the huge shortage of healthcare workers, the country witnessed tremendous pressure, it said.
It noted that the government could not accurately anticipate the gravity of the possible resurgence of the pandemic and its subsequent waves.
Even when the trajectory of COVID-19 cases in the country registered a decline in the aftermath of the first wave, the government should have continued its efforts to monitor the resurgence of Covid and its possible outrage in the country, the committee said.
It noted that the ministry had cautioning states to maintain vigil and chalk out strategy for any exigencies that may arise due to resurgence of COVID-19 in their respective regions.
"However, the committee is unhappy to note that many states were unable to cope up with the arising uncertainties and medical emergencies in the wake of the resurgence of COVID-19 during the second wave that caused more than 5 lakh registered deaths," it said.
On July 20, 2021, the Centre said in the Rajya Sabha, no state or Union Territory had reported any death due to oxygen shortage during the second wave of Covid-19 pandemic.
In response to an unstarred question by Congress MP K C Venugopal if a large number of patients died on roads and hospitals due to acute shortage of oxygen, Minister of State for Health Bharati, Pravin Pawar said although health is a state subject, all states report cases and deaths to the ministry on a regular basis, as per guidelines for reporting deaths. “No deaths due to lack of oxygen have been specifically reported by states/UTs,” said the minister in her written response.