The Uttar Pradesh government on Thursday told the legislative council that no death due to lack of oxygen was reported in the state during the second wave of COVID-19, a claim rejected by the opposition. The government said the death certificates made no mention of 'death due to lack of oxygen' in any of the 22,915 patients that died due to the pandemic.
Replying to Congress member Deepak Singh during the Question Hour, Health Minister Jai Pratap Singh said, "No death has been reported in the state due to lack of oxygen during the second wave." Raising a supplementary question, Deepak asked whether the government had details on similar cases that were flagged by its own ministers.
"Many ministers wrote letters saying deaths are taking place due to lack of oxygen in the state. Apart from this, many MPs had also made such complaints. Many incidents of deaths due to lack of oxygen had come to light. Is there any information with the government about these deaths in the entire state. Has the government not seen the dead bodies flowing in the Ganges and people suffering due to lack of oxygen?"
Giving clarification, Pratap said a doctor issues death certificate in case a hospitalised patient dies. He said there was no mention of 'death due to lack of oxygen' anywhere in the 22,915 death certificates that were issued by the doctors for COVID-19 victims in the state.
The minister said several deaths during the pandemic were due to various other diseases, including terminal ones, and that the government had arranged oxygen from other states when there was a shortage.
Samajwadi Party's (SP) Udayveer Singh had earlier said, "The Uttar Pradesh government took action against Paras Hospital in Agra because the video of a doctor there had gone viral... half of the patients there were given oxygen and the other half died. Oxygen supply was stopped on the instructions of the district magistrate."
He sought to know when the government itself has taken action in the case, how it could make a "false statement" in the House.
In response, the minister said the district magistrate and police commissioner's investigation report mentioned about a 'mock drill' in the hospital and it was during this time that the oxygen supply had allegedly been stopped.
Udayveer objected to the minister's reply saying the "truth will not change" if the government writes "extinct" instead of "death" in the certificate.
Deepak also argued whether the letters written by the ministers on lack of oxygen, too, were false.
Leader of the House Dinesh Sharma said the health minister had answered the questions asked. He said the members of the opposition should acknowledge that major casualties were avoided due to the "promptness" of the Uttar Pradesh government in ensuring medicines and treatment.
Earlier, the House proceedings were adjourned for 15 minutes with the SP members raising the demand for dismissal of Union Minister of State for Home Ajay Mishra Teni over the Lakhimpur Kheri violence which had left eight people, including four farmers, dead in October.
SP's Naresh Uttam asked why Mishra had not been dismissed. This was, however, disallowed by Chairman Manvendra Singh. The SP members barged into the well of the House carrying placards leading to a brief adjournment.