New Delhi [India], October 20 (ANI): Anticipating a surge in coronavirus cases in the upcoming festival season and winter, the Union Health Ministry has initiated the process to import about 1,00,000 metric tons of Liquid Medical Oxygen as a precautionary measure.
During a press conference on COVID19 update, Rajesh Bhushan, Union health secretary said: "The health ministry has initiated the process for importing of 1,00,000 MT of LMO. This is being done to ensure adequate stock and to address any anticipated surge in COVID19 cases."
"As a means of abundant precaution, building oxygen generation capacity within hospitals (generate and supply ). The government is installing PSA Plants in hospitals. Atleast 246 PSA plants are being put in 18 State / UTs in the 1st phase and 67 at various stages of completion. About 150 PSA plants will be upgraded in 30 State / UTs in the 2nd phase."
Bhushan urged people to wear a mask and maintain social distancing amid the apprehension of re-infection of COVID-19 during the upcoming festival.
The health secretary highlighted that the Central government has taken various steps in the last few months including, infrastructure augmentation, ensuring uninterrupted supply of medical oxygen, monitoring and co-ordination and proactive interventions,
"As on September 1, 2020, a total of 43,022 COVID-19 patients were on oxygen support. This went up to 75,098 in the September third week and then it started declining and presently stands at around 57,000. The installed capacity and daily supply of oxygen is much higher than this," Bhushan said.
The peak consumption of medical oxygen in India happened in the week between September 9-15, 2020, the health secretary said.
"In the last 10 months, there has never been any scarcity of medical oxygen in the country. We have taken proactive steps to augment oxygen supply. The Health Ministry created an adequate number of Oxygen Supported Beds, ICU Beds and Ventilators. The number of beds containing oxygen has increased from 57,000 to over 2 lakh. Oxygen has been provided in more than 390 hospitals," he said.
"Oxygen production capacity enhanced from 5,913 MT (on April 2020) to 6,862 MT in September 2020 and 7,191 MT by end of October 2020. The Ministry have developed 775 Cryogenic Oxygen Tanks (total 7438 MT) in the country which are installed in hospitals. We are also creating control room in different places on the directions of Ministry of Home Affairs to monitor efficient and adequate availability of medical oxygen in States/UTs," he added.
The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has fixed the maximu price of Liquid Medical Oxygen (LMO) as Rs 15.22 per cu mt. and Oxygen (Medicinal Gas) in cylinder as Rs 25.71 per cu mt.
"Further, SOPs have been issued on September 25, 2020 for rational use of oxygen. Directions have been issued to ensure free 24 hours movement of Medical Oxygen between States/UTs. Proactive interventions taken, like building O2 Generation Capacity within Hospitals," he said. (ANI)