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Oxygen cylinders a must during COVID-19

Oxygen cylinders concept.
Image credit: photodiod / 123rf

Rajasthan has recorded a substantial increase in demand for oxygen cylinders amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. This encapsulates the need for medical oxygen and ventilators imperative during this crisis.

A report by Times News Network (TNN) notes that “with more oxygen-supported beds being added for COVID-19 treatment in hospitals across the state, the demand for oxygen is also going up.” The TNN report quotes a health department official as saying “the Centre has in-principle agreed to supply oxygen from Ahmedabad to Jodhpur and Udaipur. It is not clear yet how much oxygen will be supplied but it will be done soon. 

“Currently, we are supplying oxygen daily from Bhiwadi to Jodhpur and Udaipur. We are getting 50KL of oxygen from a firm in Bhiwadi, out of which 20KL is supplied to Jaipur daily and 15KL-15KL is supplied to Jodhpur, Kota and Udaipur on rotation basis as per daily requirement.” 

The TNN report establishes that “the Centre has given in-principle approval to the state government to supply oxygen cylinders from Gujarat for use in Jodhpur and Udaipur hospitals.” 

Oxygen cylinders are a vital component of the response in India to the COVID-19 pandemic. As reported earlier this month by BBC News

“Some fifteen percent of COVID-19 patients require help with breathing, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Some people appear in no evident respiratory distress, but are found to have dangerously low oxygen levels – a condition called silent hypoxia. 

“A fraction of the critically ill patients require a ventilator. Around 500 factories spread across India extract and purify oxygen from the air. Oxygen for medical use typically accounts for fifteen percent of overall supplies. The rest – industrial oxygen – is mainly supplied to steel and automobile industries for running blast furnaces.”

That report outlined how “factories ship oxygen in liquid form to hospitals in tankers, which is then converted into gas and piped directly to beds. Some hospitals also use steel and aluminium cylinders which store oxygen in gas form – but this requires frequent change of cylinders for each bed.” It then goes on to note how “not surprisingly, demand for oxygen has risen exponentially. Hospitals and care centres are consuming up to around 2,700 tonnes of oxygen every day this month, compared to 750 tonnes in April, according to data obtained from All India Industrial Gases Manufacturers Association.”

The report cites “oxygen manufacturers” who, it reports, “say the demand for industrial oxygen has also shot up because more factories are now reopening. The states seeing a worrying uptick in infections – Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh – are suffering the most. It’s a lives-versus-livelihoods question that India is grappling with now.” 

Quoted is Saket Tikku, president of the All India Industrial Gases Manufacturers Association, who said “45 percent of the oxygen we are producing is going to industries, while 55 percent is going to hospitals and nursing homes. The government is in a bit of a bind. If we cut supplies of industrial oxygen to factories, industry will get hurt. On the other hand, if we are not able to augment supplies of medical oxygen, then lives will be in danger.” 

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