Prime Minister Narendra Modi was today briefed about the efforts being made by the government to import medical grade oxygen to bridge the demand-supply gap amid a massive surge in coronavirus cases across the country. At a review meeting comprising senior officials of several ministries, PM Modi suggested that the production of medical oxygen should be scaled up, a government statement said.
India on Friday reported over 2 lakh coronavirus cases for the second consecutive day. Several states, including worst-hit Maharashtra, have complained of a shortage of medical oxygen because of massive demand triggered by the Covid surge.
PM Modi's review comes a day after the Centre identified 12 states - Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan - as those having high Covid "burden". These states would be provided 4880 tonnes, 5619 tonnes and 6593 tonnes of oxygen on April 20, April 25 and April 30, the centre decided on Thursday.
The centre has also decided to import oxygen from abroad.
"In view of increasing demand for medical oxygen, EG2 (Empowered Group-2) decided to float a tender for import of 50,000 MT (Metric Tonnes) of medical oxygen. MOHFW has been directed to finalise the tender for the same and also explore possible sources for import identified by the missions of MEA (Ministry of External Affairs)," a government statement, released on Thursday, read.
A hundred new hospitals will get their own oxygen plants with funds from the PM-CARES fund, the government had said.
At the meeting today, the ministries presented the district-level situation in these states to PM Modi. Diverting surplus oxygen stocks in steel plants for medical use was also discussed at the meeting.
PM Modi urged officials to ensure seamless and free movement of tankers carrying oxygen throughout the country.
Health infrastructure across the country is under intense pressure because of the increased Covid caseload. There have been reports of a shortage of hospital beds, essential drugs and medical oxygen. In some cities, disturbing visuals showing Covid patients in ambulances in queues outside hospitals have emerged.
India today reported over 1,100 deaths because of the virus.