Covid-19: States rush to fix oxygen supplies as demand soars

Rutam Vora Ahmedabad | Updated on September 14, 2020

Manufacturers asked to accord priority to medical requirements of oxygen

As the pandemic tightens its grip with India reporting nearly one lakh new cases on a daily basis, the States are rushing to ensure uninterrupted Liquid Medical Oxygen (LMO) supplies for the critical Covid-19 patients.

Concerns in the medical community over the shortage of medical oxygen had started gaining ground from Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Punjab among other major States.

State governments have started issuing orders capping supplies for industrial use, especially as unlock measures get underway.

According to medical experts, the use of oxygen at the hospitals treating Covid-19 patients has gone up significantly over the past few weeks.

Gujarat demand up

Speaking to Businessline, MM Prabhakar, Medical Superintendent at Ahmedabad Civil Hospital - Gujarat’s largest State-run hospital, said, “There is no change in protocol (for treatment of covid-19 patients). If a patient is put on BiPAP, then the requirement of oxygen is more... May be there is an increase in number of patients for such treatment. Now, asymptomatic or mild-symptomatic patients get treatment under home isolation, while patients with complications such as breathlessness, de-saturation of oxygen come to hospital requiring oxygen.”

The Gujarat government on September 10, issued a notification asking oxygen makers to reserve 50 per cent of their production capacities for hospital requirements. As per the Gujarat Food and Drug Control Administration (FDCA) the State has total 52 licenced medical oxygen makers, and 50 industrial oxygen makers. The State currently has daily oxygen consumption of approximately 250 tonnes, HG Koshia informed underlining a punitive action of six months of imprisonment if manufacturers failed to reserve 50 per cent of capacities for medical use.

In Maharashtra...

In his web address on Sunday, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, had said that there would be no shortage of oxygen for medical requirements. The government restricted the supply of oxygen for industries at 20 per cent, while 80 per cent is to be supplied to hospitals. “We have launched Mission Begin Again, and more and more industries have resumed operations after the lockdown. Therefore, industrial demand for oxygen is rising. On the other side, there is an increase in demand from the hospitals treating Covid-19 patients,” he stated in his address.

The State FDCA data shows that Maharashtra has 24 oxygen producers and 66 sellers, but in order to ensure uninterrupted supplies, the State health department is learnt to be working to set up liquid oxygen manufacturing facilities at government hospitals across the State.

The State Government of Karnataka has also notified the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for use of oxygen after instances of wastage and shortage were reported in parts of the State. “The Clinical Expert Committee has conducted an analysis of the usage of oxygen, which reveals that there is a non-judicious and excessive use of oxygen therapy without proper monitoring. Excessive usage besides having deleterious health effects is resulting into the wastage of precious resource leading to a shortage of the commodity and waste of money,” said a circular issued by the Karnataka Health and Family Welfare Department last month.

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Published on September 14, 2020
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