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A Viral Video Has Torn Apart Bihar Govt’s Claims on Efficiently Handling COVID-19

Patna: When Mani Bhushan, the son of a coronavirus patient at Nalanda Medical College and Hospital (NMCH), Patna, couldn’t take the apathy of the hospital staff towards COVID-19 patients any longer, he decided to shoot a video and upload it on the internet. The video went viral, tearing into pieces the Bihar government’s claims of efficiently handling the pandemic, writes Reetu Rohini. 

Bhushan documented scenes of COVID-19 patients lying next to corpses. He focused his camera on life-support machines that were not functioning properly, but which continued to be hooked to patients.
As the reach of the video spread on social media, shared widely by people including Tejashwi Yadav, leader of the Rashtriya Janata Dal, Bihar’s opposition party, Mangal Pandey, Bihar’s health minister, told the mainstream media that the hospital was “following all the protocols”.

However, according to Bhushan, his video showed only one aspect of the alleged mishandling of the pandemic in Bihar. What he went through merely to have his father tested for the virus showed that chief minister Nitish Kumar’s claims that Bihar is giving its all to fight the virus are words unsupported by on-ground action.

Seeking a hospital

When Bhushan first suspected that his father, Awdhesh Singh, had been infected by the virus, he went to several private hospitals in Patna. “No private hospital admitted my father so I had no option but to take my father to Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH),” he said.

PMCH admitted Singh, but without even testing him, the hospital placed him among the COVID-19 positive patients, said Bhushan.

“I was with my father throughout and they only tested him after several requests from us and a lot of pressure,” he said. “The test results came after three days, which is the height of neglect. You want the test results to come as fast as possible, to have the maximum time possible to save the patient.”

As a COVID-19 positive patient, Mani’s father was shifted to the NMCH, a hospital dedicated to patients of the COVID-19 virus. In the ambulance on his way to the NMCH, Singh’s condition deteriorated rapidly. His pulse rate fell to 55 beats per minute.

Once at the NMCH, it took three hours to shift Singh from the emergency ward to the Respiratory Intensive Care Unit (R-ICU), which is just two minutes away.

“They took three hours for paperwork,” said Bhushan. “It was frustrating because my father needed oxygen. His condition was getting worse; he was suffocating.”

Hospital or morgue?

When he entered the R-ICU, Bhushan was shocked to see a dead body on the bed next to the one allotted to his father. Not only was the corpse there on Singh’s arrival, it remained there for two days longer, even after several complaints and another death in the ward.
In fact, the two corpses were removed only after the two days it took for Bhushan’s video to go viral.

It wasn’t just the dead bodies that caught the attention of those who viewed the video. The poor condition of the life-support machinery in the ward was displayed when Bhushan focused his camera on an electrocardiogram (ECG) machine attached to a patient that showed only straight lines. On an ECG machine, straight lines signify that the patient is dead. But the patient concerned was sitting upright, clearly alive.

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