At least 30 Covid-19 patients in Uganda are reported to have died at Mulago National Referral Hospital on Tuesday night after the facility’s oxygen supply malfunctioned, DailyMonitor reports.

Officials were reluctant to discuss the matter which, if true, presents the biggest single-day Covid-19 death reported at the country’s largest Covid-19 treatment centre since the outbreak of the disease in the country in March 2020.

According to DailyMonitor, senior Mulago Hospital staff, speaking on condition of anonymity due to sensitivity of the matter, said 18 bodies had by 2pm yesterday been released for burial.

There were differing accounts of what exactly happened. One version is that oxygen supply to the Intensive Care Unit and High Dependency Unit failed at night while the other explanation, one corroborated by officials, is that the oxygen supply pressure dropped dramatically due to high intake by patients.

Dr Rosemary Byanyima, the Mulago Hospital deputy director, said she was not sure about the deaths, but admitted that the facility had been grappling with problems of oxygen supply from the plant.

“I don’t have statistics yet and oxygen did not go off, but because of the high demand, the pressure reduced. When the pressures go low, can you deliver as much (oxygen)? When the pressures drop because of high demand, then it puts a strain on how you deliver,” she said.

In a statement on Monday, the Mulago Hospital administration noted that: “Currently, the plant is operating at the capacity of 2,999 litres per minute due to high demand for oxygen and this forces the oxygen pressure to fall in some units, especially ICU which uses ventilators that require high pressure.”

The recommended production capacity of the plant, officials said, is 2,083 litres of oxygen per minute.
Shortly after news of high overnight deaths at Mulago, the Health ministry announced that 49 new Covid-19 deaths occurred on Tuesday, the highest single-day reported fatalities in the country.

Total deaths from the pandemic are now 508.

The ministry later clarified that new deaths include those that occurred on previous days.

The defective oxygen supply at Mulago affected non Covid-19 patients, according to a man who only identified himself as Nathan.

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