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India: Journalist Dies While Waiting for Ambulance at COVID-19 Facility in Pune, state government Orders Probe

Pune, Maharashtra, India: A 42-year-old reporter of a Marathi news channel died of COVID-19 infection on Wednesday at a newly-created jumbo care facility at COEP here in Maharashtra, a top civic official said. Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) commissioner Vikram Kumar said an inquiry has been ordered into the incident.

District collector Rajesh Deshmukh said deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar had given instructions to probe the issue of non-availability of a cardiac ambulance. "I have received information that the journalist was brought from Ahmednagar district in an oxygen-equipped ambulance and was admitted to the jumbo facility here, where he was undergoing treatment," he said.

Sister of the deceased said her brother would have been alive had the cardiac ambulance been made available in time. "My brother died just because he could not get an ambulance in time," she said.

She also alleged a gross mismanagement at the 800-bed facility, saying it was managed by trainee doctors. "We had sent food and medicine to my brother, but both the things did not reach him," she alleged.
One of colleagues of the deceased reporter said that his condition started deteriorating on Tuesday night, a day after he was admitted at the facility. "He was to be shifted to a private hospital, as his condition started deteriorating, where we somehow managed to get an ICU bed for him. However, we could not get a cardiac ambulance in time," he alleged.

The ambulance was supposed to arrive early Wednesday at the facility, but it was too late as he succumbed to the infection by 5.30 am, he claimed. "Had the cardiac ambulance been made available earlier, his life could have been saved," the colleague said.

Meanwhile, BJP state president Chandrakant Patilblamed "insensitive and lackadaisical" approach of the administration for the incident. "It is the state government which has been instrumental in setting up jumbo facilities, so responsibility(of their upkeep) lies with the government and local administration," he said.

The Kothrud MLA claimed that 8 to 9 deaths have taken place at the said jumbo centre. BJP MLA Siddharth Shirole said the jumbo facility lacked necessary medical facilities.

"The state government has failed to provide medical facilities in the last five months in Pune," he said, alleging that the upkeep of the COEP facility had been ignored by the government.

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