As Covid Rages through Maharashtra, Fire Incidents across Hospitals Put Safety Standards Under Scanner

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Tragedy struck Maharashtra’s Palghar district on Friday morning when 13 Covid-19 patients under treatment at a hospital’s intensive care unit died in a blaze incident.

The fire broke out in the ICU on the second floor of the four-storeyed Vijay Vallabh Hospital at Virar shortly after 3 am, an official said. Firefighters extinguished the blaze at 5.20 am, he added. There were 17 patients in the ICU when the fire broke out, the official said. Four patients were rescued and shifted to other hospitals in the area, he added.

Over the past one year, fire accidents at hospitals, particularly in Covid care centres, in Maharashtra have put the safety standards under scanner.

Fire at Sunrise Hospital, Bhandup

In March this year, 10 coronavirus patients died after a fire broke out at a Mumbai mall hospital where they were being treated. Initially, when the death toll was two, the hospital authorities had said that the two were covid patients and were already dead by the time fire broke out. The incident had taken place at the Sunrise Hospital in the Dreams Mall building in Bhandup area around midnight. The hospital is situated on the top floor of the four-storeyed mall building. Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray had assured action against erring authorities.

Mumbai Mayor Kishori Pednekar who visited the site expressed shock that a hospital was operating inside the mall. "I have seen a hospital at a mall for the first time,” the mayor said, adding action will be taken if irregularities were found in allowing the facility to operate there. The hospital in a statement said, "There was a fire on the first floor of Dreams Mall, Bhandup and the smoke reached up to the Sunrise Hospital located on the top floor. When fire alarms sounded, all patients were safely evacuated to the fire refuge area as the smoke was reaching the hospital.” A civic official said the BMC had issued notice to the mall last year for allegedly flouting fire safety norms.

Nagpur Hospital Fire

Earlier this month, three people died and several others suffered injuries after a fire broke out at a private hospital in Nagpur, Maharashtra. The fire had reportedly started from an AC unit of the ICU located on the second floor of the hospital. This was a non-covid hospital where fire broke out.

Nashik Covid Centre Fire

A major fire broke out in a building housing a private Covid Care Centre (CCC) in Chandwad town in Nashik district of Maharashtra on April 6. However, no casualty was reported. Around 22 patients admitted at the facility were shifted to the sub-district hospital in the town as a precaution.

Oxygen Leak at Nashik Hospital

On Wednesday, 24 patients on ventilator suffocated to death when their oxygen supply stopped abruptly because of a malfunction in the main storage at the civic-run Dr Zakir Husain Hospital in Nashik city. A total of 150 patients were admitted to the hospital when the oxygen leak occurred. Explaining the cause behind the deaths, Nashik collector Suraj Mandhre said, "The supply tank that was set up in this hospital started leaking due to cork damage after which the pressure decreased and those on invasive ventilator did not receive adequate oxygen on time. 22 people have died.”

Dahisar Hospital Fire

Afire broke out at the jumbo Covid care centre (CCC) in suburban Dahisar of Mumbai on April 4. No casualties were reported and the patients were shifted in time to a safe location inside the facility. The blaze erupted in the section called "Hangar F” of the CCC where 50 patients were lodged and soon spread to "Hangar G” where 49 patients were admitted, the official said.

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