Updated: May 02, 2021 02:21 AM GMT
Charred medical equipment are seen inside a ward of the Patel Welfare Covid Hospital after a fire broke out overnight killing 16 Covid-19 patients including one health worker, in Bharuch some 190 km from Ahmedabad on May 1, 2021. (Sam Pathaky/ AFP)
A fire in a government hospital in the western Indian state of Gujarat burnt to death sixteen Covid-19 patients and two nurses on May 1 in the second such incident in a fortnight in the country, where the pandemic’s second wave has crippled the medical facilities.
Such repeated accidents in state-run hospitals show the horrible neglect faced by government facilities meant for the poor, said Catholic leaders in the state.
The fire broke out in the ICU unit of the Patel Welfare Hospital in Bharuch district. It erupted at midnight reportedly caused by a short circuit. Patients who escaped the fire have been moved to nearby hospitals.
Bishop Jose Chittooparambil of Rajkot diocese said the “it was very shocking to learn the death of so many pandemic patients and two nurses.”
Jesuit rights activist Jesuit Father Cedric Prakash, based in Gujarat’s Ahmedabad city, said people come to hospitals to save their lives.
“But it is a sad case when patients die in hospitals because of accidents,” he said adding that such accidents do not reflect well on the hospitals.
The priest told UCA News May 1 that a probe should bring the culprits to the book and “they should be given exemplary punishment.”
He said the second wave of the pandemic outbreak “has exposed the horrible situation of the medical facilities in the state.”
On April 23 a fire in Vijay Vallabh Hospital in Mumbai, the capital of Maharashtra state in western India, killed 13 Covid-19 patients.
In another similar incident, 22 Covid-19 patients were killed following an oxygen leakage in a hospital in Nashik also in Maharashtra on April 21.
Father Prakash accused the federal and the state governments “of abdicating their responsibilities in developing proper public health system in the state.”
“They always insisted on promoting the private health care system rather than the public health care system. And now the poor, marginalized and the middle class are dying for want of basic treatment after the second wave of pandemic hit the state,” the priest said.
“Hundreds of thousand people are dying in Gujarat daily following pandemic infection as they do not have access to basic medical facilities,” the activist priest lamented.
He said experts had cautioned of the impending danger of the second wave of the pandemic “but the government did nothing to address it,” he said.
The Jesuit said most government hospitals “have buildings but don’t have required number of doctors, nurses and paramedical staff to run them,” the priest said.
The Catholic Church “used to offer our institutions and people whenever the state faced calamities such as earthquakes, but now the situation is different as it is a contagion” and just volunteers are not enough to address it, he said.
Gujarat is among the worst-hit states in the country. It recorded 4,252 new Covid-19 positive cases and 173 death on April 30 as the country added close to 400,000 new cases.
….As we enter the first months of 2022, we are asking readers like you to help us keep UCA News free.
For the last 40 years, UCA News has remained the most trusted and independent Catholic news and information service from Asia. Every week, we publish nearly 100 news reports, feature stories, commentaries, podcasts and video broadcasts that are exclusive and in-depth, and developed from a view of the world and the Church through informed Catholic eyes.
Our journalistic standards are as high as any in the quality press; our focus is particularly on a fast-growing part of the world - Asia - where, in some countries the Church is growing faster than pastoral resources can respond to – South Korea, Vietnam and India to name just three.
And UCA News has the advantage of having in its ranks local reporters who cover 23 countries in south, southeast, and east Asia. We report the stories of local people and their experiences in a way that Western news outlets simply don’t have the resources to reach. And we report on the emerging life of new Churches in old lands where being a Catholic can at times be very dangerous.
With dwindling support from funding partners in Europe and the USA, we need to call on the support of those who benefit from our work.