As India continues to battle a second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Centre is closely coordinating with states to deal with the ongoing shortage in oxygen supply across the country, the Union Health Ministry said in its briefing on Friday. The government had placed an order for 1,27,000 oxygen cylinders, including 54,000 jumbo cylinders (D type) and 73,000 regular cylinders (8 type), on April 21 and deliveries are expected to start by the end of the month.
The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is installing 500 PSA plants of indigenous technology for dealing with the oxygen crisis. Besides, the health ministry has sanctioned additional 551 PSA plants which will be installed at different public health facilities.
The government is also exporting oxygen from different nations across the world. So far, orders for 200 MT of oxygen have been placed in Singapore, 1800 MT in Abu Dhabi and additional 1,500 MT is being sourced from abroad.
Efforts are also being made to increase the availability of oxygen tankers to over 2,000 (from the existing 1,224 tankers) through conversion of 50% of existing Nitrogen and Argor tankers and through import of 138 cryogenic tankers.
In a bid to increase its availability by at least 1,000 MT, the Centre has also prohibited industrial use of oxygen with effect from April 22.
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) issued instructions to all States/UTs to ensure that no restrictions were being imposed on the movement of medical oxygen across the country. The Railways is also being used for long distance transport of tankers through Roll on-Roll Off (RORO) service.
The Central government has also advised states to ensure rational use of oxygen, and prohibit its abnormal use by monitoring non-closure of valve during no-use, unnecessary oxygen administration to patients who may not require it clinically and for monitoring private health facilities which indulge in pushing oxygen cylinders as part of Covid-19 home based care packages. States have also been advised to undertake oxygen consumption audit at all hospitals including private ones.
The health ministry had issued guidelines on the same on April 25 after wide discussions with leading government and private hospitals across the country.