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Pakistan: Covid patients die due to oxygen shortage in Peshawar

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image copyrightEPA

image captionPakistan is struggling with a second wave of the virus

Six coronavirus patients have died in a hospital in Pakistan after oxygen supplies ran too low.

Patients’ relatives have described how they begged for help as panic engulfed the government-run hospital in the northern city of Peshawar.

A delay in deliveries meant more than 200 patients were left for hours on reduced oxygen.

Hospital officials have blamed the shortage on the supply company but several staff have been suspended.

Pakistan is currently fighting a new wave of coronavirus cases, with a total of more then 400,000 infections and over 8,000 deaths reported since the start of the outbreak.

According to local media, the problems at Khyber Teaching Hospital began after the daily supply of fresh oxygen cylinders did not arrive on Saturday evening. The 300 backup cylinders were then unable to supply the required pressure for the ventilators.

Mureed Ali, whose mother is ill with Covid-19, told BBC Urdu that “throughout the hospital, we were running to save our patients, begging the medical staff”.

He explained that some patients were eventually moved to the emergency room, where there was still a good oxygen supply.

But after those supplies ran low as well, several patients died, while many others deteriorated into critical condition.

image copyrightEPA

image captionThere are growing concerns over an oxygen shortage

Hospital staff eventually asked the patients’ relatives to try to buy oxygen cylinders themselves, according to Mr Ali, but only some managed to do so.

A spokesman of the government-run hospital told the BBC that five of the dead were patients in the coronavirus ward and one in the intensive care unit. Officials say all of the dead were adults.

By 04:00 local time (23:00 GMT) on Sunday, the delayed official oxygen supply finally arrived at the hospital.

Hospital officials described the shortage as “criminal negligence”.

An inquiry found staff meant to be on duty at the hospitals’ oxygen plant were not present at the time, and that the oxygen tank on site would routinely only be partially filled.

The director of the hospital and several other staff have already been suspended.

media captionDr Amara Khalid’s video diary of Pakistan’s struggle with coronavirus

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