Bangladesh orders oxygen producing plants to halt supply to industries; redirect gas to hospitals

Anisur Rahman
·2-min read

Dhaka, Apr 27 (PTI) Bangladesh on Tuesday ordered all the oxygen producing plants in the country to redirect the life saving gas to hospitals amid fear that the health facilities in the nation could run out of its oxygen supplies due to the rise in COVID-19 patients.

“We have issued the directive as the regulatory agency ordering a temporary halt to oxygen supplies to industrial units and redirect the gas to hospitals,” a senior official told reporters here.

She added that the Bangladesh government was importing oxygen from India for the past several weeks for medical purposes to make up a shortfall but the neighbouring country halted the supplies since last week amid the alarming rise of coronavirus infection cases there.

CUrrently, five companies produce oxygen in Bangladesh.

Health minister Zahid Maleque, however, said Bangladesh was yet to face with any major oxygen shortage in hospitals 'but, if the number of patients rises . . . we will face a crisis'.

In a related development the foreign ministry on Tuesday said Bangladesh sought Covid-19 vaccines from China as soon as possible as India halted exports of Oxford-AstraZaneca vaccine produced in Serum Institute amid a huge surge in local cases.

“We are trying to explore all options since India’s Serum Institute has halted exports in view of their domestic crisis,” foreign minister Dr AK Abdul Momen told media.

Momen said China has assured Bangladesh of working on the nation’s request.

Bangladesh earlier this week halted administering of the first dose of Serum Institute vaccines in view of the supply shortfall.

“Efforts are underway to procure vaccines from Russia and the United States as well,” directorate general of health services spokesman Professor Nazmul Islam said.

He said the health regulators by now approved the use of Russia’s Sputnik vaccine as Dhaka expected its first consignment to reach Bangladesh in mid May.

The Chinese and the Russian vaccines are yet to receive the World Health Organisation approval but health officials said Bangladesh decided to approve them as the inoculates proved effective in many countries.

Bangladesh in the last 24 hours recorded 78 more COVID-19 deaths and detected 3,031 fresh infection cases, with the latest count the death toll climbed to 11,228. PTI AR RUP RUP RUP