Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a high-level meeting today to review the severe oxygen supply shortages faced by hospitals in a growing number of coronavirus cases as a deadly second wave of Covid-19 sweeps the country.
Officials briefed the prime minister on efforts made in recent weeks to improve oxygen supplies, a statement from the prime minister’s office said.
“The Prime Minister spoke of the need to work rapidly on multiple aspects: increasing oxygen production, increasing the speed of distribution and using innovative methods to provide oxygen support to healthcare facilities,” he said.
The availability of medical oxygen, he said, has been increased by about 3,300 tons per day with contributions from private and public steel mills, industries, oxygen producers, as well as through a ban on oxygen supply to non-essential industries.
The PM was briefed on how oxygen demand from the United States is steadily increasing due to Covid’s high workload. India today saw a record high of Covid with 3.14 lakh of infections in one day and 2,104 deaths. This is the fastest rise in cases and deaths a country has experienced so far.
Officers informed the Prime Minister that they are working with states to get the 162 sanctioned oxygen plants operational as soon as possible. Last week, the center authorized the installation of such implants in public health facilities in all states amid a hype over medical oxygen due to the spike in coronavirus cases.
The Prime Minister has ordered officials to ensure that the supply of oxygen to the various states is done smoothly and unhindered. He talked about the need to establish accountability with the local administration in the event of an obstruction, his office added. Ministries were asked by the Prime Minister to explore various innovative ways to increase oxygen production and supply.
Representatives from the medical community also talked about the need for judicious use of oxygen and how an audit in some states has decreased oxygen demand without affecting patients’ conditions.
The prime minister also stressed that states should come down heavily on hoarding.