Government to import one lakh metric tonne of medical oxygen

Written By: / Friday, 16 October 2020 17:49

By IT Correspondent
New Delhi, Octobe 16:
The Union Health Ministry has initiated the process of importing liquid oxygen at a cost of nearly Rs 700 crore, as part of its preparedness to meet any unforeseen shortage during the winters when the country may witness an increase in COVID-19 cases leading to a rise in demand for oxygen.

HLL Lifecare Limited, a public sector undertaking, has floated a global tender on behalf of the Health Ministry for procuring one lakh metric tonne of liquid oxygen to be used in various central and state government hospitals. The entire exercise of importing and then distributing the medical oxygen is estimated to cost Rs.600-Rs 700 crore.

In March, before the country went into a lockdown, the country had a manufacturing capacity of around 6,400 metric tonne of oxygen per day, of which around 1,000 metric tonne was being used for medical purposes daily while the rest was utilised by industries. With unlock procedure, industries have opened up and as on September 30, the country’s daily capacity of oxygen production was around 7,000 metric tonne, of which around 3,094 metric tonne is being used for both COVID and non-COVID patients.

However the supply is just enough to meet the demands. As such one lakh metric tonne of liquid oxygen which is being planned to be procured from foreign countries would create a one month buffer in case demand rises further during the winter season. The issue was discussed at a meeting held by the Cabinet Secretary on October 10, following which it was decided to import liquid oxygen.

Even though India is witnessing a declining trend in daily new COVID-19 cases, experts fear that the upcoming festive season and following winter months may see a spike in coronavirus infections. Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan has already urged people to observe COVID-19-protocol such as wearing masks, hand hygiene, maintaining respiratory etiquette and staying away from congregations, citing the possibility of increased novel coronavirus transmission during winters. “These viruses are known to thrive better in the cold weather and low humidity conditions. In view of these, it would not be wrong to assume that the winter season may see increased rates of transmission of the novel coronavirus in the Indian context too, he said.

In September, when cases were increasing and the Health Ministry repeatedly advised states to ensure adequate oxygen availability in all healthcare facilities and unrestricted intra as well as inter-state movement of oxygen. States were also asked to ensure facility wise/hospital wise oxygen inventory management and advance planning for timely replenishment so that there are no stock outs.

About the Author

Raju Vernekar

Raju Vernekar

Raju Vernekar is a Media Professional based in Mumbai and is a regular contributor of Imphal Times. He had served as Chief Reporter at Free Press Journal (1996 – 2015 ). His Activities includes writing for different news papers, script writing/production for TV channels, Films Division. Writing poems in Marathi, Hindi, English, Guiding mass media students and helping people to solve their problems. Raju may be contacted at [email protected]

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