Covid-19: CNG fuel cylinder may carry oxygen for hospitals

Mamuni Das New Delhi | Updated on April 06, 2020

Representaive image   -  Reuters

WHO recommends oxygen therapy for all adults showing signs of obstructed/absent breathing

Staring at high demand for oxygen and its potential shortage in hospitals as the coronavirus disease crisis deepens in the country, the government is now looking to move oxygen in cylinders that move transport fuel CNG.

Several stakeholders including Gas Authority of India Limited (GAIL), gas cylinder manufacturers, and their transporters have been asked by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to evaluate the technical feasibility of such a move, said sources in the know.

“Guidelines have been prepared by incorporating the major sources of supply of oxygen, oxygen system component, normative requirement of quantity of oxygen and precautions required for handling the oxygen cylinder, including disinfecting cylinders right from the filling point to transportation, loading, unloading, use, exchange, carriage in the hospitals and in critical-care facilities. All concerned hospitals and staff must be informed to ensure timely requisitions, including payments, so that there is no disruption of oxygen supplies,” said a health ministry document reviewed by BusinessLine.

This appears to be do-able, say industry sources.

From a technical perspective, there is an in-principle agreement to move oxygen in such CNG cylinders as government guidelines permit change of use of cylinders twice during the life of a cylinder ― this means large cylinders carrying CNG can be converted to carry oxygen, and then converted back to carrying CNG when needed. These guidelines have been prepared by the Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO), a government of India body.

The challenge in ensuring adequate oxygen supply and the need to handle it carefully in the backdrop of Covid-19 were flagged by the Health Ministry and a team of doctors from major hospitals. They have pointed out that unique challenges are emerging in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and making available adequate supply of oxygen is one of them.

Making oxygen available, and ensuring that the handling and transportation of oxygen cylinders are disinfected are important parts of the whole process, said the health experts as they shared a set of guidelines, for all stakeholders involved in the supply of oxygen, late last week. They added that this is not the last word on safety, and the protocols will have to be updated.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has recommended oxygen therapy for all adults who show signs of obstructed/absent breathing.

Published on April 06, 2020

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