When asked about the oxygen preparedness in the event of a third wave of infections, Bhushan said, “After the second surge (wave), there has been a concerted effort to ensure that at the hospital level and within the states at regional levels, oxygen buffers are created.”
The Centre on Thursday briefed on the steps taken to increase the production and distribution of medical oxygen to tackle a third wave of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) in the country. Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan said that the government has undertaken “concerted efforts” to create oxygen buffers at the state level.
Bhushan made the comments during a regular press briefing by the Union ministry of health and family welfare on Thursday, in which Dr Balram Bhargava, the director general of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), was also present.
When asked about the oxygen preparedness in the event of a third wave of infections, Bhushan said, “After the second surge (wave), there has been a concerted effort to ensure that at the hospital level and within the states at regional levels, oxygen buffers are created.” However, he also said that granular data regarding the question would be shared in upcoming press briefings.
Explaining further, Bhushan also said that oxygen buffers have been created by ensuring that public health facilities have their own captive oxygen generation plants. “More than 1,500 such plants have been sanctioned and around 900 of them have already been commissioned and they are being commissioned at a very fast pace,” he said, in what he called the first element of creating an oxygen buffer.
“The second element of creating an oxygen buffer is to enable public health facilities to have medical oxygen storage tanks. There also, under the Covid emergency response package, which the Union govt has announced at a cost of ₹23,123 crore, we are providing funds to the states and UTs to procure these medical oxygen tanks and install them in hospitals wherever they are required,” he also said.
To handle emergency situations related to the need for medical oxygen, Bhushan said that a senior office would be assigned to equitably distributed oxygen storage facilities at state or municipal corporation levels. He also said that the contact details of the officers would be put on “public domain” so as to enable the hospitals to know whom to contact in such situations.
“If there is a SOS situation in a hospital, rather than creating unnecessary panic, they would know that these are the people who should be contacted and then the people who are manning these equitably distributed oxygen storages, they would be in a position to supply oxygen wherever it is needed,” he said.
The need for medical oxygen to treat Covid-19 infections ballooned severely during the second wave of the Covid-19 infections in the country. As part of its efforts to tackle this need, the oxygen express trains were started in India on April 24, 2021. As of July 24, 2021, around 480 trains were operationalised under the plan and over 35,000MT of liquid medical oxygen were transported to 15 states, the ministry of railways had said. Hindustan Times