13 COVID-19 patients die in Tamil Nadu’s Chengalpattu Government Hospital

Oxygen supply was disrupted due to low pressure.

Updated - May 05, 2021 11:45 pm IST

Published - May 05, 2021 01:57 pm IST - CHENNAI

People wait outside the government hospital at Chengalpattu in Tamil Nadu on May 5, 2021.

People wait outside the government hospital at Chengalpattu in Tamil Nadu on May 5, 2021.

Thirteen COVID-19 patients died after oxygen supply was disrupted due to poor pressure in the oxygen tank at the Chengalpattu Government Hospital in Tamil Nadu late on Tuesday.

Confirming the death of the 13 patients on Wednesday, J. Muthukumaran, Dean of the hospital, said oxygen was available in the tank from which it was supplied to more than 300 patients admitted to the COVID-19 ward, but it did not have sufficient pressure.

He said the hospital had a total capacity of 23 kilolitres (kl), comprising two 10 kl and a 3 kl oxygen tanks.

“Previously, when there were not too many COVID-19 patients, we did not face any oxygen shortage but now with a large number of COVID-19 patients getting admitted during the past fortnight [oxygen beds have been filled up], it has become tough. Today, 309 patients in the COVID-19 ward [of the total 580] were provided with oxygen support,” he said.

“The COVID-19 ward is supplied with oxygen from the 10 kl tank. As several government and private hospitals are also in need of oxygen supply, our hospital has been receiving only around 4 kl to 5 kl to be filled in the three oxygen tanks, which would be enough to treat patients on regular days.”

Doctors stage protest

The incident triggered a strike by postgraduate physicians and assistant doctors, demanding the immediate filling of the oxygen tanks on Wednesday morning.

Doctors at the hospital staged a strike on Wednesday

Doctors at the hospital staged a strike on Wednesday


Chengalpattu Collector A. John Louis, who went to the hospital on hearing about the tragedy, pacified the protesting doctors and assured them that all their demands would be met. He ordered an inquiry by the Revenue Divisional Officer (RDO).

The hospital authorities handed over the bodies to the relatives for cremation.

A postgraduate doctor who participated in the protest said the hospital had been facing oxygen shortage despite having 23 KL capacity tanks. Since COVID-19 patients had been getting admitted in large numbers, the hospital had been facing oxygen shortage for more than a week, he claimed.

The tragedy started to unravel when O2 supply in the tank for more than 300 patients was available for only a few hours on Tuesday noon. Though cylinders were used for providing oxygen to the patients, five COVID-19 patients had died by Tuesday evening.

In the meanwhile, the district administration made arrangements for filling the oxygen tankers on Tuesday but the supply was not quite enough, leading to the death of 13 COVID-19 patients about 3 a.m. on Wednesday, doctors at the hospital said.

At a press conference on Wednesday, the Collector denied there was any shortage of oxygen in the hospital.

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