States asked to conduct oxygen audit, Centre closely monitoring supply: Health ministry
The Union health ministry on Friday said that states have been asked to audit oxygen consumption even in private hospitals while the Centre is ramping up efforts to increase the supply amid the Covid-19 crisis. Briefing about the "concerning" developments of the pandemic situation of the country, the ministry said the second wave of Covid-19 is five times the peak in the first wave in Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, 4.5 times in Chhattisgarh and 3.3 times in Delhi.
Goa is witnessing the highest case growth rate of 10.9 per cent, followed by Odisha with a growth rate of 8.1 per cent. In the last four weeks, Uttar Pradesh and Kerala have become the worst-affected states in terms of daily new cases. Delhi, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh have also turned to be emerging states of concern due to the rise in average daily deaths.
Citing the examples of countries like the US and Brazil the health ministry said that measures like containment, Covid-appropriate behaviour and vaccination can help manage the situation.
On the shortage of medical oxygen in the country, the ministry said the industrial use of oxygen has been prohibited from April 22 except for certain specified industries. This will increase at least 1,000 MT of additional oxygen availability, as per the ministry. The ministry listed other measures to ensure adequate oxygen supply like the placement of orders for 127,000 oxygen cylinders on April 21, their deliveries are expected by April end, railways are also operating Roll on – Roll Off (RORO) service for long-distance transportation of oxygen tankers and sanctioning of additional 500 PSA plants to be installed by the Development Research and Defence Organisation (DRDO) are some of many other.
"Efforts are made to increase the availability of oxygen tankers to more than 2,000 ( from existing 1,224 oxygen tankers with 16,732 MT capacity) through conversion of 50% of existing Nitrogen and Argon tankers (~ 600 tankers) and through the import of 138 cryogenic tankers for oxygen," the ministry said on increasing the production of life-saving oxygen.
As the healthcare infrastructure of the country is overwhelmed by a load of the second wave, the ministry asked the states to ensure rational use of oxygen, prohibit abnormal use by monitoring non-closure of the valve during no-use, unnecessary oxygen administration to patients who may not require it clinically and to monitor private health facilities which push oxygen cylinders as part of Covid-19 home care package.
On the measures taken by the government, the ministry added the liberalized pricing and accelerated strategy for vaccines that involved procuring 50 per cent of supplies for free vaccine distribution through states and Union territories.
Social distancing, regular hand wash, sanitization, are essentials to break the chain of infection, as per the ministry.