The Uttar Pradesh Government is investigating after the owner of a private hospital was caught allegedly bragging about shutting off its oxygen supply as COVID-19 ravaged the state.
Arinjay Jain, the owner of Paras Hospital, is quoted as saying he would "find out who will die and who will survive" after the chief minister informed him there was no more oxygen for patients, so they needed to be discharged.
"We were asking people to discharge their patients but no one was ready," he is reportedly heard saying in an audio clip.
"So I decided to conduct an experiment - a mock drill of sorts. We snapped the oxygen supply for five minutes on April 26...22 patients started gasping for breath and their bodies began turning blue. So we came to know they will not survive if there is no oxygen," Times of India quotes Jain as saying.
Jain told the Times of India his statement was "misconstrued" but did not deny it.
"We had conducted a mock drill to identify critical patients and better serve them."
Asked if 22 people died due to lack of oxygen Jain said he "did not have the exact numbers".
He told NDTV, "We categorised COVID patients to see which patient needs how much oxygen... Mock drill does not mean switching off a patient's oxygen. We did not switch off oxygen. I did not clearly say so in the video."
Agra District Magistrate Prabhu Singh claimed there were no deaths due to lack of oxygen on the day the alleged video was recorded. However, he said a probe would be conducted.
"Initially, there was some panic and shortage but we sorted all that out in 48 hours," he is quoted as saying by NDTV.
"This hospital, there have been seven COVID deaths on the 26th and 27th of April. The hospital also has a lot of other ICU beds. There is no truth that 22 people died but we will carry out an inquiry," Singh said in a statement.