The government sent two key messages — one on oxygen plants and the other one overall health care infrastructure — to states that are battling a worrying spike in coronavirus disease cases, even as India hit a grim record of 261,500 infections over the past 24 hours on Sunday.
Altogether 162 pressure swing adsorption (PSA) oxygen plants have been sanctioned by the Centre, the Union health ministry tweeted, adding that this will "augment medical oxygen capacity by 154.19 MT".
According to experts, several Covid-19 patients are found to have low oxygen levels in their blood. They say this could happen even in asymptomatic patients and such a condition might indicate that a patient needs medical attention.
"The entire cost of 162 PSA #Oxygen plants amounting to Rs 201.58 crore has been borne by the Central Government. This also includes 7-year maintenance cost to start from 4th year onwards after three years of warranty," a health ministry tweet said.
Another post said 33 have been installed among the 162 plants, and 59 will be installed by end of April. "By end of May, 2021 80 will be installed."
The ministry said states have "appreciated installation of PSA #Oxygen plants in their public health facilities" and requested the Centre "for more than 100 such additional plants, which are also being sanctioned".
"Out of 162 PSA plants sanctioned by Government of India, 33 have already been installed– 5 in MP, 4 in Himachal Pradesh, 3 each in Chandigarh, Gujarat & Uttarakhand, 2 each in Bihar, Karnataka & TL; and 1 each in AP, CG, Delhi, Haryana, Kerala, Maharashtra, Puducherry, Punjab & UP," the health ministry said in another tweet."
Separately, health minister Harsh Vardhan took to Twitter, saying all "possible support is being extended to states to fight #COVID19". He stressed that a united fight against the pandemic is the only way forward.
For anti-viral drug Remdesivir, which several states say are short in supply, he listed the following steps:
Production being doubled to 74.1L/month by May
Express permission given to 20 manufacturing plants to increase production
Strict monitoring to curb any malpractice, hoarding and black marketing
On Saturday, major manufacturers of Remdesivir announced a reduction in its price.
Amidst concerns over the health care infrastructure under stress, Vardhan also focused on the oxygen plants, hospital beds and vaccines. He said the number of beds will be enhanced by setting up temporary hospitals and "dedicating wards at hospitals" under Union ministries.
He said vaccine "supplies of small States (were) being replenished every 7 days and every four days for big States", remarks that come against complaints over shortage. "Production of #Covaxin to increase 10x by Sep 2021," he tweeted.