New Delhi, June 8 (EFE).- An alleged mock drill to snap medical oxygen supply for patients at a private hospital in India at the peak of the devastating second Covid-19 wave in April triggered an online outrage and the closure of the health facility on Tuesday.
Arinjay Jain, the hospital head, allegedly confessed about the so-called mock drill in a leaked viral video of what appears to be a private conversation in his office.
Jain, who heads the Paras hospital in the Indian city of Agra, is heard saying in the video that the health center cut off the oxygen supply for about five minutes.
The drill took place when the country was battling perilously low levels of life-saving gas during the peak of the second wave of the virus outbreak from March to mid-May.
He said the exercise on April 28 was to identify the patients who could survive without an external oxygen supply.
Jain noted that the hospital authorities tried to convince those patients to leave, but some did not listen.
“I said let us do a mock drill. We will find out who will die and who will survive. So we did the drill at 7 am. A mock drill was done. No one knows. Then we identified 22 patients. They started turning blue,” Jain can be heard saying in the clip.
During those days, hospitals in various Indian states, including the capital New Delhi, posted SOS messages on social media channels that they were running short of stored medical oxygen that had put their patients at the risk of death.
Opposition leader Rahul Gandhi, a lawmaker with the Indian National Congress, Tuesday blamed the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government for the oxygen crisis across the country.
“There is a severe shortage of both oxygen and humanity under the BJP rule,” Gandhi tweeted.
The scion of the Nehru-Gandhi family called for swift action against those responsible for the “dangerous crime.”
Agra District Magistrate Prabhu Singh told EFE that the authorities were probing the incident following the viral video.
Singh, however, gave no further details.
In a statement, he said there were no reports of Covid-19 patients dying due to the lack of oxygen supply on April 28.
He said the authorities would investigate seven deaths reported the next at the hospital.
After the leaked clip circulated widely on social media, the hospital owner indicated that the media misinterpreted the conversation.
He said the hospital had received instructions from the administration to use oxygen judiciously and rationally.
He said the hospital conducted the drill without risking the lives of patients.
“We had to find out the oxygen dependency of the patients to understand how we can handle the situation if there is an oxygen shortage or if the supply gets over,” Jain said in a statement.
“Mock drill means taking stock of the situation before facing an issue, to understand how to work in emergency. We had categorized the patients. Mock drill does not mean switching off oxygen.”