MP COVID Horror: Overburdened Crematoriums, Health System Crumbles

Madhya Pradeh’s medical services are struggling to cope with the rising challenges of COVID-19.

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Madhya Pradesh's medical system is crumbling due to the recent COVID surge. The state’s medical services are struggling to cope with the rising challenges of COVID, as people are dying in big numbers.

There is evident shortage of oxygen, Remdesivir and hospital beds in the state. But, minister Hardeep Dang had dismissed such claims. On 15 April he said, “A negative atmosphere is being created. I believe, we don't have any shortages of oxygen or injections.”

But the scene on the ground is contrary to his claims. There are long queues for oxygen, and hospitals are not admitting patients due to lack of oxygen.

“I want to request the government that people are dying due to lack of oxygen. Please pay attention. After standing for 8-9 hours, people are getting one cylinder. How will 10-11 patients survive on a single cylinder.”
Dr Parihar, Bhopal

Hospitals are out of beds, people are lying on hospital floors. In one incident, a gardener was called in to take COVID tests in a hospital in Sanchi.

There is heavy shortage of Remdesivir. People are unable to get access to the crucial injection, even after trying for days.

“I have been admitted for the last seven days. Doctors have prescribed Remdesivir injections. They said the hospital will provide it. I’ve got one injection. Now my family is facing problems in procuring another injection. We can’t find it in the market also. Many people haven’t received their injection. They are all facing problems.”
Preksha, a patient in Ujjain

Amid such a grim situation, there are instances of mismanagement. About 800 vials of Remdesivir were stolen from a Bhopal hospital.

At least 12 patients lost their lives in the ICU ward of Shahdol medical, reportedly after the oxygen ran out.

“My elder brother was admitted here. He was 38 and had recovered. He was on oxygen support. The oxygen machine turned off in front of me. He died gasping in front of me.”
Ravi Kumar Jaiswal, Shahdol

Crematorium Numbers Different From Government Data

The state has also witnessed a spike in COVID fatalities and crematoriums are overburdened. A person at Bhopal’s Bhadbhada cremation ground said, “I am witnessing such scenes after the gas tragedy of 1984.”

But the number of cremations does not reflect on the government records. Bhadbhada cremation ground alone saw 72 bodies of COVID patients on 15 April, while official data stated only four COVID deaths in the city.

Khandwa saw 31 cremations and two burials on 16 April but government figures reflect zero COVID deaths for that day. Indore’s crematoriums are seeing so much rush that tokens are being issued to get the slot for cremation.

Insensitive Action by State Legislators

Even amid such a crisis, local state politicians are not refraining from giving careless statements. On 15 April, minister Prem Singh Patel said, “When people get old, they are bound to die.”

When the state is suffering from an acute shortage of oxygen, local Indore politicians including BJP MP Shankar Lalwani, MLAs Ramesh Mendola and Akash Vijayvargiya delayed a 30,000 tonne oxygen tanker, as they did a two-hour long photo-op around it.

Until a few days ago, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan was campaigning in crowded rallies for the by-election in Damoh. While greeting the public there, he was heard saying, “Corona won’t come here.”

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