"No death has been reported in the state due to lack of oxygen during the second wave," the Uttar Pradesh government claimed on Thursday, 16 December, during Question Hour in the Legislative Assembly, news agency PTI quoted.
Health Minister Jai Pratap Singh was responding to a question raised by Congress member Deepak Singh when he made the disputed assertion.
Despite widespread reportage on deaths owing to the lack of oxygen during the second wave of coronavirus, the UP health minister went on to say that death certificates of the 22,915 patients who died of the virus made no such mention.
The Congress member contended:
"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... 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?"Jai Pratap Singh, as quoted by PTI
The UP health minister maintained that the oxygen paucity was handled by arranging the live-saving gas from other states.
'Truth Will Not Change': SP MLA
Samajwadi Party's (SP) Udayveer Singh had previously noted the case of Paras Hospital in Agra, which had found itself in the midst of controversy when a senior doctor in the hospital allegedly conducted a 'mock drill' to identify who would succumb due to a shortage in oxygen. At least 16 lives were lost.
"Truth will not change," Singh asserted, "if the government writes 'extinct' instead of 'death' in the certificate".
What Was Reported During the Second Wave?
The horrors of the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic had also been encapsulated in extensive reports of casualties amid an acute oxygen paucity around the country.
In Uttar Pradesh’s Meerut, at least seven COVID patients were reported to have succumbed to the illness in April in KMC and Anand Hospital.
Hospitals in Meerut, had asked several patients' families to arrange for oxygen themselves, NDTV had reported.
In May, the Allahabad High Court had hauled up the UP government over oxygen shortage in the state, saying that “death of COVID patients just for non-supplying of oxygen to the hospitals is a criminal act and not less than a genocide".
The COVID-19 crisis in India had taken a nightmare-like turn during the second wave of the virus, with several hospitals issuing SOS calls as their oxygen supplies diminished and they were forced to turn away patients due to the paucity.