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Covid cases falling, but demand for medical oxygen may not fall proportionately: Maharashtra to HC

The requirement for medical oxygen, which has seen extremely high demand from across India in the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, may continue to be the same, said the state.

Written by Ajay Jadhav | Pune |
Updated: May 28, 2021 10:10:59 am
A BMC health worker does screening of a passenger for COVID-19 test at a railway station in Mumbai, Monday, May 24, 2021. (PTI Photo)

While the number of coronavirus cases is decreasing in the state, it is not necessary that the demand for medical oxygen, often needed for critical patients, decreases proportionately with it, the Maharashtra government told the Bombay High Court on Thursday.

The requirement for medical oxygen, which has seen extremely high demand from across India in the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, may continue to be the same, said the state.

The High Court had sought the status of availability of medical oxygen in the state for treatment of Covid-19 patients.

Read Also: As Covid raged across Maharashtra, how a community pitched in to set up a care centre in Jalagaon

The Maharashtra government also submitted an affidavit before the court, in response to a public interest litigation, about the various measures taken by it to handle the Covid-19 situation.

“Though, the number of Covid-infected patients in our state has presently decreased, it is not necessary that proportionately, the demand for medical oxygen has to decrease,” said Sadhana Tayade, director, Directorate of Health Services, in the affidavit.

The state government said the requirement of oxygen by various patients undergoing medical treatment, not only for Covid-19 but also for other ailments, depends on the clinical condition of each patient. The requirement normally varies from 1 litre per minute to 40 litres per minute. The amount of medical oxygen needed also depends on the equipment that is used to oxygenate a particular patient.

Covid-19 patients who are administered medical oxygen either on an ICU bed or an oxygenated bed usually take a longer time to recover and reach a stage where they no longer need oxygen, the state told the court. “…While the number of newly-infected patients in the state may decrease, the requirement and demand for medical oxygen may continue to be almost similar, though not identical,” it said.

“Therefore, it may not be appropriate to judge the demand for medical oxygen only by the rising or falling number of Covid-19 patients. I will quickly hasten to add that there are, in our state, a large number of patients who require medical oxygen though they are not infected by Covid-19. Additionally, oxygen is also required for essential industries, especially the pharmaceutical industry, though the same is not made available for other industries,” said Tayade.

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The Maharashtra government also said the requirement of oxygen in the first wave of the pandemic was far lower than the ongoing second wave. The affidavit also claimed that the government has been very responsive in dealing with the demand and supply issue of oxygen. “The response of our state is adoptive in the sense that the same varies on a day to day basis depending upon the situation at hand.”

Last month, the state had faced shortage of medical oxygen for treatment of Covid-19 patients and had started procuring it from private industries in Maharashtra as well as those in Gujarat and Karnataka, the affidavit noted. But the central government had later taken over the supply aspect of medical oxygen, and allocated 1,804 MT of oxygen for the state to meet its requirements. The state government said the demand and supply situation was almost “neck and neck”.

Now, Maharashtra is aiming to become self-reliant in production of adequate medical oxygen and is encouraging private industries to set up plants across the state for generation of oxygen.

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