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States, UTs should have buffer stock of medical oxygen sufficient for at least 48 hrs: Health Ministry says amid spike in COVID cases

New Delhi : Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan on Wednesday wrote to chief secretaries of all States, Union Territories for taking immediate measures to ensure optimal availability of medical oxygen at health facilities, in view of the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic. This comes as India recorded as many as 1,94,720 fresh COVID-19 infections and 442 fatalities in the last 24 hours, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said on Wednesday. "As you are aware, COVID-19 cases have seen a significant surge in the country. Taking cognizance of the importance of medical oxygen during the pandemic, the Government of India has proactively and consistently supported all States, Union Territories in strengthening health systems with respect to medical oxygen infrastructure. The emerging scenario calls for immediate measures by State/UTs to ensure optimal availability of medical oxygen at all concerned health facilities," the Health Ministry said in its official letter. Bhushan, in its letter, advised for an adequate buffer stock of medical oxygen. "All health facilities providing ln-patient care and oxygen therapy should have buffer stock of medical oxygen sufficient for at-least 48 hours," read the letter. The letter further asked States and UTs to ensure the availability of Liquid Medical Oxygen (LMO). The LMO tanks at the health facilities should be sufficiently filled and uninterrupted supply chain for their refilling should be ensured, Bhushan said. Functional Pressure Swing Adsorption (PSA) Plants were advised by the ministry as well. "Health facilities across the country have been strengthened with PSA plants. lt is important to ensure that these PSA plants are kept fully functional. All steps should be taken for the proper upkeep and maintenance of such plants," it read. Further, the ministry asked States and UTs for an adequate inventory of Oxygen Cylinders. Bhushan said that all the health facilities should have adequate inventory of oxygen cylinders along with back-up stocks and robust refilling systems and it should also be ensured that these cylinders are filled and kept ready. The ministry also took advised officials of ensuring sufficient number of Oxygen Concentrators in states and Union Territories. "All districts should ensure that oxygen concentrators supplied to them are fully functional. Their proper up keep and maintenance need to be ensured," it read. Moreover, the ministry stressed on ensuring the availability of Life Support Equipment. "All higher-level health facilities should have life support equipment including Ventilators, Bi-PAP, SpO2 systems and associated consumables in sufficient numbers to respond to the emerging needs. Adherence to the disinfection protocol is also a must. All infection prevention protocols should be adopted while using the oxygen delivery devices and equipment at all the health facilities," it read. The oxygen control rooms should be reinvigorated at State/UT level for prompt resolutions of oxygen related issues and challenges, the ministry said.

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