The incident in April, in which seven patients, including four admitted to the COVID ward of the hospital, had created a furore in the State. The oxygen plant and supply pipes had frozen, and workers were seen pouring hot water to defreeze it. However, the then Collector A Shanmuga Sundaram claimed that the deaths were due to comorbidities and not due to disruption in supply. But the relatives are not convinced.
Vinoth of Vellore, who lost his relative in that incident, was categorical that the death was due to issues in oxygen supply. “Even if they had comorbidities, they died only when the oxygen supply was disrupted,” he said.
When asked about the matter, Vellore District Consumer Federation president K Sathiyamoorthy said it was a mistake by the present State government to state that there were no deaths, pointing out that CM MK Stalin himself had written to the Prime Minister after deaths happened at the Chengalpattu government hospital.
A senior AIADMK functionary said on condition of anonymity that the State and Union governments were playing politics over the issue. “It was because the Union government failed to do the needful that the Supreme Court created a national taskforce to streamline oxygen supply. This was also the reason why the present government accepted the offer by Vedanta group to provide oxygen from its closed Sterlite Copper plant in Thoothukudi,” he said.
Not mincing words, noted virologist Dr T Jacob John said, “The Union government has streamlined a policy of whitewashing major issues, which has resulted in the trustworthiness of the present regime coming down drastically.”
However, a senior health official said that only the patient’s case sheet maintained at the hospital would have the cause of death. “Then too, only medical reasons would be mentioned as cause of death based on the medical code, and non-medical reasons would not be included in that,” he said.
The official added that a normal death certificate would have only the place and date of death, while the cause of death has to be provided by the local body.