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State’s medical oxygen demand set to witness manifold rise: Guj govt
Gandhinagar/Ahmedabad: Days after Additional Secretary (Health) VG Vanzara issued a notification directing oxygen manufacturers to set aside 60% of their production for the healthcare sector, the producers say that medical demand for oxygen, which has seen a 400% jump in the past month, is likely to increase further.
This rise in demand is a direct effect of the recent surge in the number of COVID-19 cases.
“While the notification said 60%, we have been instructed orally to prepare to send 100% of our production to hospitals,” Jignesh Shah, the owner of Hilltone Medical Oxygen told First India. “This shows that the government is gearing up to face a worsening situation in terms of COVID-19.”
He further explained that, pre-pandemic, the daily oxygen requirement at the state’s hospitals was about 100 metric tonnes. “Since the beginning of March 2021, this demand has grown to 400-450 metric tonnes per day.”
The state now has a total of 61 medical oxygen manufacturers, up from 33 prior to the onslaught of the novel coronavirus.
These 61 firms have a total daily production capacity of 970 metric tonnes, which can fill 27,762 cylinders of oxygen per day.
“Gujarat has also notified that vehicles carrying medical oxygen should be treated on par with ambulances, to ensure uninterrupted supply of oxygen to neighbouring states,” Gujarat’s Food and Drug Control Administration (FDCA) Commissioner Dr HG Koshia said.
Justifying the increase in the price of medical oxygen, Dr Koshia said that the hike was an outcome of poor infrastructure for unexpected growth in medical oxygen demand.
“While Gujarat has the capacity to supply oxygen to neighbouring states, we have to hire transport facilities from Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and other states—and these firms have begun to charge four times the normal rates for transport vehicle.
As a result, local manufacturers are compelled to increase the medical oxygen prices,” he said.
His only worry is that, if the demand for medical oxygen rises further, the state risks running short of transport facilities.