MHA asks states to ensure free movement of oxygen carrying vehicles

MHA asks states to ensure free movement of oxygen carrying vehicles
A medical worker wearing PPE pushes an oxygen cylinder for a patient suffering from COVID-19 at the casualty ward in Lok Nayak Jai Prakash hospital, in New Delhi. Reuters

New Delhi: The Union Home Ministry on Friday asked all states to ensure free movement of oxygen carrying vehicles without any restriction as medical oxygen is an important pre-requisite for managing moderate and severe COVID-19 cases.

In a communication to chief secretaries of all states and union territories, Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla said it has come to the notice that some states are trying to curb inter-state movement of oxygen supplies from manufacturing units situated in their respective areas.

Some states are also mandating manufacturers and suppliers located in the state to restrict their oxygen supplies to the hospitals of the state, he said.

Earlier in the day, Malayala Manorama had reported the shortage of medical oxygen supply in Kerala as the supply was stopped by many states.

Bhalla said availability of adequate and uninterrupted supply of medical oxygen is an important pre-requisite for managing moderate and severe cases of COVID- 19 and with increasing number of active cases, the consumption of oxygen is also expected to increase.

He said it is emphasised that medical oxygen is an essential public health commodity and any impediment in the supply of medical oxygen in the country may critically impact the management of patients suffering from COVID-19 in other parts of the country.

State and union territories have been asked to ensure no such restriction is imposed on the movement of medical oxygen between states and transport authorities shall be instructed to accordingly allow free inter-state movement of oxygen carrying vehicles, according to the communication.

It also said that no restrictions shall be imposed on oxygen manufacturers and suppliers to limit the oxygen supplies only to the hospitals of the state in which they are located and there shall be free movement of oxygen carrying vehicles into the cities, without any restriction of timings, while also enabling inter-city supply without restriction".

The home secretary also requested that all states and union territories may constitute multi-disciplinary teams, comprising representatives of the health, industry, transport and other related departments, to continuously monitor the availability of medical oxygen in their respective jurisdictions.

The home ministry said any shortfalls or related problems that are encountered in this regard, should be immediately brought to the notice of the Central Control Room that has been established in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW).

Bhalla also referred to the Unlock-4 guidelines where it was clearly mentioned that the lockdown is limited to the COVID containment zones and all activities are permitted outside the containment zone except few prohibited activities.

"Further, there shall be no restriction on inter-state and intra-state movement of persons and goods," he said.

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