With nearly 2,000 new beds for Covid-19 patients coming up last week, the demand for medicinal oxygen, often needed by patients who are in advanced stages of the infection, is set to rise considerably.
“Two new jumbo hospitals have come up in Pune, besides two other facilities. In neighbouring Solapur and Satara districts, two new Covid facilities have come up. All these facilities will need additional amount of oxygen as the patient count goes up,” Joint Commissioner of Food and Drug Administration, S B Patil, told The Indian Express on Monday.
Pune district needs 175 metric tonne of medicinal oxygen per day. “Eleven companies supply the oxygen. As of now, supply and demand levels are same, but it is a tight situation…,” he said.
On how the demand for oxygen has increased, Patil said, “In June, there was a demand of 40 metric tonne of oxygen. This has gone up by over four times, to a demand of 175 metric tonne by August, and is set to rise further in coming days”.
Zilla Parishad CEO Ayush Prasad said the new “air liquid oxygen” plant by a French company, which is going to be operational in the next four-five days, will help sort the issue to a great extent. “There were some power supply issues for the plant. On August 15, we had shut down half of Chakan industrial units and tried to fix the problem. We had got a special order issued by the magistrate to get the work done. We expect the plant to start functioning in the next four-five days,” he said.
“Once this plant start, we will get supply of additional 100 metric tonne oxygen, which will resolve the shortage problem in entire district,” he added.
The district administration said hospitals in Pune are facing the problem of shortage of jumbo cylinders, which are required for high-flow nasal oxygen supply. “We are trying to get the cylinders from various places… the problem will be resolved,” said Prasad.
“As extra beds have come up… demand for oxygen has gone up, and suppliers have increased their rates,” said Prasad, adding that the administration has appointed two nodal officers to ensure smooth supply of medicinal oxygen.
In rural areas, Prasad said, the administration has diverted industrial oxygen to hospitals. “As industries are not working with full capacity, the demand for oxygen from them has come down. Therefore, we have diverted oxygen to hospitals,” he said.
Sujit Patkar, director of Lifeline, which runs the jumbo hospital on COEP grounds, said, “The hospital has just started. We have installed an oxygen tank which needs to be filled every day. Since we have just started, we don’t have too many patients. As the number of patients increases, we will need more oxygen supply.”
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