RESPONSIBILITY: Chief Minister Pramod Sawant is holding Health Minister Vishwajit Rane responsible for the oxygen shortage at the GMC which has allegedly claimed the lives of several of covid-19 patients
BY RAJAN NARAYAN
AND a few stray thoughts for yet another Saturday. For a Saturday following the week when the Goa Bench of the Bombay High Court slammed the State government for disobeying its directive on permitting bhaile from across the borders into Goa. For a Saturday following the week when war broke out between Health Minister Vishwajit Rane and Chief Minister Pramod Sawant and it intensified. For a Saturday following the week when Covid-19 continued to produced hundreds of covid crorepati. For a Saturday following the week when the World Health Organisation (WHO) discouraged the use of Invermectin as a prophylaxis against covid-19. For a Saturday following the week when the minority Muslim community was upset as there would be no Eidgah namaz for the second year due to the spike in covid-19 cases. For a Saturday following the week when not just in Goa but nationwide the vaccination drive for the 18-45 years age group was delayed.
AND a few stray thought on the Goa Bench of the Bombay High Court slamming the collectors of North and South Goa for not carrying out its directives on making covid-19 negative certificates mandatory for all seeking to come into Goa. The Goa Bench pointed out that it had issued an interim order to ensure that no persons are permitted entry into the State of Goa unless they possess a Covid-19 negative certificate obtained within 72 hours from the time of entry into the State. The Bench had also granted the State administration liberty to file a detailed affidavit if it felt that the order should be modified. The argument is that by ignoring the interim order the collectors had modified the directive for entry into the state of Goa. The District Magistrate issued order May 8, 2021. Covering several aspects including the aspect of entry of persons into the State of Goa. The collectors had exempted people who are residents of Goa or entering for work or who had with them the full vaccination certificate. The Bench expressed displeasure that despite its clear and unambiguous order dated May 6, 2021, the two district magistrate either on their own or from instruction from higher ups had proceeded to waive exception in favour of residents of Goa for entering into the state. The district magistrate had also made an exception for persons entering Goa for medical emergency on production of proof or coming in an ambulance. The Bench pointed out that the DM was bound by the order of the High Court and could not by themselves modify the order or refuse to comply with them. Even the Advocate General Devidas Pangam of the State of Goa has not defended the actions of the magistrate.
The Goa Bench has again reiterated its interim order dated May 6, 2021 but retains the liberty to the State administration to file an affidavit if it wants any changes. The Bench made it clear that collectors of north and south Goa who are also the DM should make amends for disobeying the order of the High Court. However, the HC has agreed to the exception made by the collectors for medical emergency. Those who have a medical emergency can enter Goa on production of proof that they were sick or were entering the state in an ambulance.
The Goa Bench of the Bombay HC has asserted that “irrespective of whether such amends are made or not, from the midnight intervening May 11 and 12, the state administration ensure that no person who does not possess a covid negativity certificate based on a test done a maximum of 72 hours before seeking entry into Goa will be permitted to enter into Goa. The State government has to ensure the compliance of the court’s order through an affidavit by the Chief Secretary Piramal Rai. On the issue of supply of oxygen the HC heard the matter on May 12.
The HC bench is of the opinion that affidavits explaining the actual position at the hospital should be placed before the Court by the Dean of GMC and by the Director of Health Services with respect to the north Goa and south Goa District hospital as well as the ESI hospital being used as a covid facility hospital. The HC has also sought details about the purchase of ventilators, HFNO (oxygen) beds machine in the context of supply of oxygen. The HC also invited the Goa Association of Resident Doctors to file an affidavit on the difficulties they face due to shortage of oxygen and the fall in the pressure of the oxygen supply at the GMC.
rane pramod war
AND a few stray thoughts on the war that has broken out between Chief Minister Pramod Sawant and Health Minister Vishwajit Rane. Vishwajit Rane made a statement on Tuesday, May 11 that 26 covid patients had died because of the drop in the pressure of the oxygen supplied from the storage tank attached to the GMC. The HM went further and claimed that there deaths took place because of this between 2am and 6am. It is not clear if the number of deaths announced in the medical bulletin issued every evening by the Director of of Health Services Jose D’Sa are due to the drop in the pressure of oxygen delivery or the disease of covid per se.
What is strange is that the HM has sought an investigation monitored by the HC into the interruption of oxygen supply between 2am and 6am. Considering that Vishwajit Rane is the HM, he should take responsibility for the fall in pressure of oxygen delivery which fell to 0.25 pounds in the early hours of Tuesday. Chief Minister Pramod Sawant has not surprisingly admitted mismanagement at the GMC. Here he is obviously taking a dig at Vishwajit Rane who is the health minister in charge responsible for whatever mishaps taking place at the GMC.
Nothing happens in the GMC without the permission of Vishwajit Rane. It was Vishwajit Rane who placed an order with Scoop Industries to exclusively supply oxygen and other gases to the GMC. The CM, who for the first time personally went around the covid wards at the GMC on Tuesday said he would fix responsibility and hold Sanjeev Naik, owner of Scoop responsible for the fall in pressure — which as far as we know caused the 26 deaths that night. Obviously Sanjeev Naik of Scoop has not been supplying enough oxygen to fill the storage tank at the GMC. It must also be pointed out that the number of patients requiring beds has increased steeply with an average of 200 to 300 new admissions every day at the GMC. To give an example the total number of covid patients in the GMC increased from 754 to 929 between May 5 and May 10.
The number of patients dependent on the central oxygen pipeline rose from 160 on May 5 to 290 on May 10. In addition to patients who were getting oxygen directly from the storage tank, the number of patients on cylinder oxygen went up to 456 on May 7 and May 8 before dropping to 369. The daily number of cylinders required for the increasing number of patients had risen to as high has 924. As against the almost thousand cylinders required the supply of cylinders has been less than 400 cylinders daily.
Moreover a fresh scare has risen as many cases of severe black fungal infection have been reported because of the lack of sanitization of the oxygen delilvery units. In fact, the State government has banned medical oxygen suppliers and manufacturers to refill oxygen cylinders for citizens and volunteer groups, unless they have a prescription issued by the Primary Health Centre or a doctor at any of the covid-19 hospitals. The worst affected by this order would be patients in home isolation who have been getting their requirements of oxygen directly from oxygen suppliers.
AND a few stray thoughts on the covid crorepati generated by the corona virus. For pharmaceutical companies the pandemic has been a bonanza. Right from testing kits to billions of vaccine doses. This is probably the first time that the entire population of a country is being targeted for vaccination. Until now it seemed that children would be an exception, but the US has started vaccinating even children above the age of 12- 15 years.
With Uddhav Thackeray claiming that children including the new born may be victims of the anticipated third wave, now new vaccines are being developed for children. A distinction must be made between the mRNA covid vaccines which reportedly seek to genetically modify the human immunity system and those which do not use the relatively new mRNA procedure. Most complications following vaccination have come from the mRNA vaccines which include Moderna which is a Pfizer vaccine, but not Covishield developed by AstraZeneca.
Taking India alone the vaccine manufacturers will be supplying 660 crore doses – something given the pricing will make them crorepati several times over. The requirement that everyone wear a face mask at home and out in public has created another set of covid crorepati. With each group of mask manufacturers and purveyors making claims against one another of being unprofessional.
Drugs hitherto prescribed conditions such as asthma or de-worming have been re-invented by the pharma industry as silver bullets to aid covid-19 recoveries. In fact, Health Minister Vishwajit Rane has given a big boost to the anti-parasitical drug widely used by women to tackle lice in their hair! Ivermectin is now being projected as a wonder drug to easing the severity of covid-19 infection. The HM has decided to supply everyone over 18 years of age Ivermectin tablet as a preventive or measure. The tablets are to be taken for five continuous days. This will undoubtedly boost the profits of Ivermectin manufacturers. However, the World Health Organisation has strongly warned against the use of Ivermectin for treatment of the contagion arbitrarily. WHO representatives point out that no clinical trials have been conducted to prove the efficacy of Ivermectin in preventing or reducing the intensity of covid-19.
Similarly, there is conflicting reporting on the by now famous and infamous covid drug Remdisiver. This drug too has not completed clinical trials but has been authorised for use in severely affected covid patients. However, several countries have banned Remdisivir. The top selling brand of an anti-covid drug is FabiFlu, used earlier used for common cold.
IT IS not only the pharma industry that is benefitting enormously from the covid pandemic. Syringe manufacturers are making huge profits as naturally vaccines may not be delivery without syringes. At least in India manufacturers and suppliers of medical syringes have also become “covidpathi.” Other big time beneficiaries include manufactures of medical alcohol which is an essential ingredient in hand sanitizers.
In fact every familiar product ranging from Dettol to Savlon has re-invented themselves as “covid killers.”
With the death toll mounting even the shrouds or body bags in which the dead are enshrouded have become more expensive than new clothes for Ramzan. Perhaps there is truth in the by now common claim making the rounds that covid pandemic is a huge money making scam and racket.
AND a few stray thoughts on the delay in the nationwide vaccination program for the 18-45 age group. The shortage of vaccines has severely affected the vaccination of this group. Even at the national level only 22.5 lakh young people have received the jab even after 11 days of the order coming into force. In Goa vaccination of the 18-45 group in government hospitals has not even started. The Covishield vaccine makers have not yet supplied the five lakh doses ordered and paid for by the Goa government. There are fears that the second dose for those who have already taken the first dose of vaccine may be delayed beyond the recommended four to six week interval. However, public halth experts claim that the delay in taking the second dose does not make the first dose ineffective. Meanwhile various pharma companies are in the process of making booster doses of vaccines to make rake in fortunes while the covid-19 sun shines on them.
BAD LUCK AGAIN
AND a last stray thought on the bad luck of the Muslim minority community which has been forced to skip their Eidgah Namaz for the second year in succession. Even in Saudi Arabia which used to attract millions for the annual hajj, this year there will be no public ceremonies and only the maulana will carry out the minimum ceremonies associated with Ramzan. Edi-ul-Fitr which falls on Friday, May 14 is looked forward to by all members of the minority community in India. It is equivalent to Diwali for Hindus as Christmas is for the Christian community. It is marked by the purchase of new clothes and the much looked forward to mutton biryani and sheer korma.
The association of All Goa Muslim Jamats appealed on May 11 to Muslims across the State to offer the namaz at home and avoid organising any prayer gatherings in view of the State curfew. The Muslim community has also been asked to observed all the SOPs such as wearing a mask, maintaining physical distance and staying at home. Eid is observed on Friday, May 14 in Goa and across India.