The Centre has asked the states and Union territories to ensure a judicious use of medical oxygen and no wastage of the essential public health commodity amid a surge in coronavirus cases and the subsequent demand for the life-saving gas. Additional Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs Piyush Goyal also appealed to people not to panic about the availability of oxygen as the country has a sufficient stock of the gas.
"There should be a judicious use of oxygen. In most of the (COVID-19) positive cases, oxygen is not required. Whenever the saturation level goes down, then only oxygen is required and in that case, everyone should follow the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. "We have also asked the states and Union territories to sensitise hospitals and people to ensure that there is no wastage of oxygen at any stage," he said at a press conference here.
Goyal said the country has a sufficient stock of oxygen and the issue of its transportation from the oxygen-producing states in eastern India to the high-demand states in north and central India is being resolved. "Do not worry. There is no reason to panic. We have enough stock of oxygen. The logistical challenge is being resolved. We are trying to supply oxygen to all 24×7," he said.
With a record single-day rise of 3,86,452 cases, India's COVID-19 tally has climbed to 1,87,62,976, while the number of active cases in the country has crossed the 31-lakh mark, the health ministry said on Friday. The death toll due to the viral disease has gone up to 2,08,330 with 3,498 more people succumbing to it, according to the ministry's data.
Due to the sudden spike in coronavirus cases, there were reports of a shortage of hospital beds, ICUs and oxygen in some parts of the country like Delhi. Goyal said jumbo medical facilities can be created near the industries that produce oxygen by keeping large containers for storage.
He said the production of medical oxygen in the country has been increased by 125 per cent and the daily liquid oxygen production capacity is currently 7,500 MT. "The government is also importing medical oxygen," he said.
Goyal said an order has been issued for converting 50 per cent nitrogen gas-carrying tankers into oxygen-carrying vehicles.
Meanwhile, the government on Friday said it has included import of oxygen concentrators for personal use, purchased from e-commerce portals through post or courier, in the list of exempted categories, where customs clearance is sought as gifts, amid surge in Covid-19 cases in the country. The exemption for oxygen concentrators is allowed only for a period till July 31, 2021, for personal use, according to a notification of the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT).