New Delhi: Denying reports on scarcity of Liquid Medical Oxygen (LMO), the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Tuesday said that there was never any shortage in the last 10 months, and that India was in an “extremely comfortable position”.
The Ministry had also initiated the process to import about 100,000 MT of LMO as a precautionary measure in anticipation of a surge in COVID cases in the country as the festival season and winters were around the corner.
“This is to ensure adequate stocks and to address any anticipated surge in COVID-19 cases,” Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said at a weekly press briefing here.
He also shared the data pertaining to last one-and-a-half months on the consumption and reserves of medical oxygen to buttress his point on no scarcity of LMO.
The data said that consumption of medical oxygen declined while the reserves increased during this period. The data was broken down as weekly average starting from September 2 to October 14.
“The weekly average consumption reduced from 2,791 metric tonne (MT) from the 2nd week of September to 2,503 MT in the second week of October. Meanwhile, medical oxygen stock increased from 14,932 MT to 17,103 in the same period,” he said.
The Health Ministry data however revealed that COVID-19 patients on oxygen support in hospitals soared from 43,022 to 57,357 between September 1 and October 19.
On September 1, 43,022 COVID-19 patients were on oxygen support, which went up to 75,098 in September’s third week before it started to decline to stand around 57,000 now.
“However, we don’t have to worry about the scenario as installed capacity and daily supply is far greater,” Bhushan asserted. He also talked about the steps the Ministry had taken as a graded response to the pandemic.
Besides, he said, the Centre was building oxygen generation capacity at various hospitals.
“As part of abundant precaution, the government aims to build oxygen generation and supply capacity within hospitals. The government is installing Pressure Swing Adsorption (PSA) plants in hospitals. At least 246 PSA plants are being set up in 18 states/UTs in the 1st phase and 67 are in various stages of completion. About 150 PSA plants will be upgraded in 30 states/ UTs in the 2nd phase,” he revealed.
“Further, SOPs have been issued on September 25 on the rational use of medical oxygen. Directions have been issued to ensure free 24-hour movement of medical oxygen between states/UTs,” the officer said.