The second wave of coronavirus infections has hit the country hard. Putting tremendous pressure on the nation's medical infrastructure, the latest surge in COVID-19 cases has driven up the demand for medical oxygen, a critical commodity in treating the respiratory ailment. The demand for oxygen in hospitals has reportedly gone up 600-800 per cent over the past few days.
During the first COVID-19 wave, the demand for liquid medical oxygen went up from 700 metric tonnes per day (MTPD) to 2,800 MTPD. But during the second wave, it has further skyrocketed to 5,000 MTPD, reported India Today.
As per the government, presently India is producing 7,500 MT of oxygen per day and 6,600 MT is being allocated to states for medical purpose. However, uneven supply and logistical issues have led to an oxygen shortage in some states.
Earlier, oxygen suppliers sent out 20-22 oxygen cylinders every day to hospitals as well as other end users. But demand has gone as high as 60-70 cylinders per day over the past 10 days, the channel reported. The sudden surge in demand has disrupted the supply chain, further exacerbating the crisis.
Hospitals are dependent on day-to-day supply of oxygen. "We got liquid oxygen from InOx and purchased oxygen cylinders from a private company. Have enough oxygen supply right now to last till at least 5 PM today. But don't know if we will get fresh oxygen supply by afternoon. Waiting to see what the suppliers say," Dr JP Singh, Medical Superintendent of the Tirathram Shah Charitable Hospital in North Delhi, told India Today.
Government is trying to ensure ample supply of oxygen to hospitals rising demand and supply restrictions. By order of an Empowered Group (EG-II), led by Secretary of Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), supply of oxygen to industries, barring a few, will be restricted from April 22.
Indian Railways is planning to run 'Oxygen Express', which will ferry cryogenic containers to pick up oxygen from industrial belts of the country and deliver it to states that are facing a shortage. There are also plans to set up 162 pressure swing adsorption (PSA) oxygen plants in public health facilities. These will augment medical oxygen capacity by 154.19 MT.
(Edited by Vivek Punj)