Oxygen scarcity hits COVID-19 treatment as deaths rise

Oxygen scarcity hits COVID-19 treatment as deaths rise
A medical worker wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) pushes an oxygen cylinder for a patient suffering from the coronavirus disease. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui/File photo

With the number of COVID-19 patients witnessing a steep rise each day, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare is facing an unprecedented oxygen shortage across the country. There have been unconfirmed reports that COVID-19 deaths have increased in many states due to oxygen shortage in hospitals. The Health Department, however, denies any such incident.

The department confirms that under the present circumstances, India requires 2,800 metric tonnes of oxygen every day for treatment of all illnesses, including COVID-19. But according to the figures provided by the Gas Manufacturers Association, only 2,700 metric tonnes of oxygen is being manufactured in the country. Before the Central directive to up the production in the wake of COVID-19, only 700 metric tonnes of oxygen was being manufactured in the months of March and April.

Earlier, 15% of the total manufactured oxygen was meant for the Health Department and the rest, for industrial purposes. Currently, though 55% of the production is supplied in hospitals, the rise in cases has resulted in increasing demand, which the manufacturers haven’t been able to meet. Currently, only 6% of the COVID patients under treatment require oxygen support.

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