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Oxygen Supply Leak Kills 22 COVID-19 Patients in Indian Hospital

The leak occurred in Maharashtra state, one of the worst-hit in India's second wave of COVID-19.

22 COVID-19 patients died in a hospital in India on Wednesday, April 21, when their oxygen supply was cut short due to a leakage in a supply tank, an AP report explains.

Officials at the site say the oxygen supply has since been resumed to other patients in the Zakir Hussain Hospital in Nashik, a city in Maharashtra state, which is one of the worst-hit in the country's latest surge in COVID-19.

As per the AP report, fire officer Sanjay Bairagi stated that the leakage was plugged by the fire service within 15 minutes of it occurring, however, the supply disruption tragically lasted long enough to end 22 lives of patients relying on the oxygen supply for life support.

The Hindustan Times cites Maharashtra health minister Rajesh Tope in saying that 157 patients were undergoing treatment at the COVID-19 hospital in Nashik at the time of the leak. 61 of those patients were reported to be in critical condition, some of them needing the assistance of ventilators and oxygen support.

Nashik district magistrate Suraj Mandhare is quoted as saying that the patients who died were on ventilators as well as on oxygen supply.

Video from the site shows white vapor caused by the leaking oxygen, which is currently in short supply throughout India as the country struggles with an exponentially rising second wave of COVID-19 cases — the country recorded 295,158 new cases on Tuesday, April 20.

Calls for a thorough investigation into tragic oxygen leak

Shortly after reports of the leak emerged, the state government ordered a detailed inquiry into the incident. 

Though there is currently no evidence of foul play, Maharashtra deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar said "When the health workers across the state are risking their lives to save the COVID affected patients, such incidents are unfortunate. The incident will be probed and those found guilty will be punished."

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This isn't the first time an oxygen supply failure has led to loss of life in a COVID-19 ICU ward. In January, reports emerged of patients dying in Egypt's El Husseineya Central Hospital, with officials controversially denying that the event took place.

Though global vaccination efforts continue worldwide, countries are still struggling to stop the spread of the deadly disease, that continues to result in tragic losses of life, as seen on Wednesday at the Zakir Hussain Hospital.

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