Bengal to ramp up oxygen supply as Covid-19 cases continue to rise
The West Bengal government plans to set up 55 oxygen plants at state-run hospitals treating Covid-19 patients as many of them are succumbing to the virus due to a lack of oxygen. The daily Covid-19 cases in West Bengal have shot up 75 times since February 26 when the Election Commission announced the state polls. On Tuesday, the state registered 16,403 new cases, up from 216 on February 26.
“We are ramping up infrastructure and even rationing our resources. We have around 12,500 beds with an around-the-clock oxygen supply in 105 state-run hospitals up to the sub-divisional level. Until May 15, another 3,000 such beds in at least 41 hospitals would be added,” said a health department official, who did not want to be named.
A second official said industries have been asked to convert their argon and nitrogen tankers into oxygen tankers. “The state is purchasing 5,000 cylinders of industrial oxygen. The state health department has been asked to buy cylinders with 200-litre capacities as many as possible while oxygen production units have been asked to double their production,” said a second official, requesting anonymity. “We have also brought out detailed guidelines on judicious use of oxygen in hospitals and to avoid hoarding. Police have been asked to take stern actions against hoarding. One can buy small oxygen cylinders only after producing a prescription from a registered medical practitioner.”
Chief minister Mamata Banerjee announced last week that industrial oxygen would be diverted to hospitals to deal with the crisis amid the second Covid-19 wave that has overwhelmed hospitals. She blamed the Centre for depriving the state of its quota of medical oxygen by diverting the supply to Uttar Pradesh.