Treat available O2 as critical commodity: Centre to states

Treat available O2 as critical commodity: Centre to states

New Delhi: The Centre on Friday said it has asked the states to treat the available oxygen as a critical commodity and undertake an oxygen-consumption audit at all hospitals, including private ones, amid a shortage of the life-saving gas in several parts of the country.

Addressing a press conference, Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare Lav Agrawal said from the start of the pandemic, the government had identified oxygen-supported beds as major clinical interventions.

He said the government had procured 1,02,400 oxygen cylinders at the national level in April-May 2020 and distributed those among the states.

"We have requested the states to treat the available oxygen as a critical commodity and also to ensure a rational use of oxygen," Agrawal said.

Listing out the steps taken by the Centre to augment the supply of oxygen, he said the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has issued instructions for fixing the price of liquid medical oxygen.

Agrawal said 162 pressure swing adsorption (PSA) plants of 154-MT capacity each have been sanctioned across the country. Of these, 52 plants are already installed, 87 have been delivered and work to commission these plants at the earliest is on.

The PSA plants can enable hospitals for in-situ generation of oxygen.

Agrawal said the states have been allotted 8,593 MT of oxygen.

"An order for 1,27,000 oxygen cylinders was placed on April 21 and the deliveries are expected to start in a couple of days. These include 54,000 jumbo cylinders (D type) and 73,000 regular cylinders (B type). Additionally, 551 PSA plants have been sanctioned to be implemented by the Union health ministry. These plants will be installed in different public health facilities," he added.

The states have been advised to ensure a rational use of oxygen, prohibit abnormal use by monitoring non-closure of valve during no-use, stop unnecessary oxygen administration to patients who may not require it clinically and for monitoring private health facilities that indulge in pushing oxygen cylinders as part of home-based COVID care packages, Agrawal said.

In a press conference, Additional Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs Piyush Goyal has asked the states and Union territories to ensure a judicious use of medical oxygen and no wastage of the essential public health commodity amid a surge in coronavirus cases and the subsequent demand for the life-saving gas.

He also appealed to people not to panic about the availability of oxygen as the country has a sufficient stock of the gas.

"There should be a judicious use of oxygen. In most of the (COVID-19) positive cases, oxygen is not required. Whenever the saturation level goes down, then only oxygen is required and in that case, everyone should follow the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

"We have also asked the states and Union territories to sensitise hospitals and people to ensure that there is no wastage of oxygen at any stage," he said at a press conference here.

Goyal said the country has a sufficient stock of oxygen and the issue of its transportation from the oxygen-producing states in eastern India to the high-demand states in north and central India is being resolved.

"Do not worry. There is no reason to panic. We have enough stock of oxygen. The logistical challenge is being resolved. We are trying to supply oxygen to all 24x7," he said.

With a record single-day rise of 3,86,452 cases, India's COVID-19 tally has climbed to 1,87,62,976, while the number of active cases in the country has crossed the 31-lakh mark, the health ministry said on Friday.

Due to the sudden spike in coronavirus cases, there were reports of a shortage of hospital beds, ICUs and oxygen in some parts of the country like Delhi.

Goyal said jumbo medical facilities can be created near the industries that produce oxygen by keeping large containers for storage.

He said the production of medical oxygen in the country has been increased by 125 per cent and the daily liquid oxygen production capacity is currently 7,500 MT.

"The government is also importing medical oxygen," he said.

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