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Wednesday, December 08, 2021

Scarred by second wave, 10 states send O2 ramp-up plan

The plans, sources said, are part of the measures being put in place in anticipation of the next surge as the second wave abates and pressure on health infrastructure eases.

Written by Harikishan Sharma | New Delhi |
Updated: June 13, 2021 7:00:13 am
A Covid-19 patient waits in ambulance for admission at Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Covid Care Center, in New Delhi. (Express Photo: Abhinav Saha)

GIVEN the devastating impact of the shortage of liquid medical oxygen (LMO) during the second Covid wave, at least 10 states have already sent their “action plans” to the Centre to expand their LMO generation capacity, The Sunday Express has learnt.

These states are: Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Haryana, Punjab, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Karnataka, Telangana and Tamil Nadu.

These states account for over 50% of the total confirmed Covid-19 cases and about 41% of the total Covid deaths in the country recorded until June 12.

The plans, sources said, are part of the measures being put in place in anticipation of the next surge as the second wave abates and pressure on health infrastructure eases.

Official records show that oxygen supplied to hospitals hit a peak of 8,944 metric tonnes (MT) per day on May 9 – that has come down to 2500 MT per day on June 12. Incidentally, May 7 was the peak of the second wave when the national case count touched 4.14 lakh.

These 10 states have been identified on the basis of difficulty each faced in the transportation of the LMO during the second wave.

“Their action plans were submitted this week, these will be scrutinized by the Centre over the next few days. The Cabinet Secretary is expected to hold a meeting to review these action plans,” a senior official said.

Sources said the states have asked for expansion in their LMO generation capacity over and above the 1051 Pressure Swing Adsorption (PSA) plants sanctioned under the PM Cares Fund in March and April 2021.

So far, an estimated 135 PSAs have been set up under the PM Cares Fund.

During the second wave, the supply of LMO reached an all-time high of about 9,000 metric tonnes (MT) per day. This was thrice the peak demand during the first Covid wave last year and almost nine-fold jump from normal demand.

The data of “total oxygen supplied to hospitals” includes the supply of liquid oxygen in bulk to hospitals by manufacturers and refillers as well as supply of oxygen in cylinders to hospitals by refillers.

During the first wave of COVID-19, the maximum sale of LMO was 3,095 MT per day, recorded on September 29, 2020. Since then, it followed a downward trend. In fact, the sale of LMO was only 1,559 MT/day on March 31 this year.

However, the second wave led to an unprecedented surge in demand – crossing the 8,000 MT per day mark on April 30.

As of May 8, nearly 50,000 Covid patients in the country were in intensive care units; more than 14,500 were on ventilator support and more than 1.37 lakh patients on oxygen support.

In sharp contrast during the peak of the first wave, in September, about 23,000 patients were in ICUs, less than 4,000 of them on ventilators and around 40,000 required oxygen support.

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