Tribune News Service
Jalandhar, April 19
Hospitals in the district are facing the shortage of medical oxygen to treat Covid patients. As demand for oxygen cylinders has increased manifold due to the surge in the number of Covid-19 cases, a jump in the prices of oxygen cylinders has been witnessed of late.
“One oxygen cylinder that was sold at around Rs 180-Rs 200 in the month of February this year is now being sold at Rs 450,” confirmed Dr Navjot Dahiya, president of the India Medical Association, Punjab.
‘Will install plants in Gadaipur, Pathankot’
- Rajan Guptan and Vikas Huriya of Shakti Cryogenics said they were soon going to install one more machined oxygen plant in Gadaipur (Jalandhar) and one in Pathankot to meet the rising demand in other districts also
- At present, there are only three manufacturing units of oxygen cylinder in the district
- Liquid gas is readymade gas provided to private companies by government agencies. Machined gas is produced in manufacturing units using air, water and electricity
While talking to The Tribune, he stated that the situation had become critical. “The consumption rate of oxygen cylinders has shot up by 3-5 times and hospital authorities are running from pillar to post to meet the rising demand. Owing to High Nasal Flow Oxygen (HNFO), a Covid patient these days needs 40 litres of oxygen per minute, which is around four cylinders per day.
“In the pre-pandemic phase, a 7 cubic meter oxygen cylinder used to cost around Rs 135. Owing to the pandemic, the cost went up to Rs 350, especially during the peak of the first wave of Covid-19 in September last year. However, a fall in the number of cases lowered the price of oxygen cylinders to Rs 185-200. Till the first week of last month, the prices remained low, but the sudden spike in cases not only increased demand for the cylinders but also their prices,” added Dr Dahiya.
Surprisingly, the district Civil Hospital is also finding it difficult to meet the demand with its own oxygen manufacturing unit. Despite producing nearly 135 cylinders daily, the hospital has to rely on private manufactures for meeting the rising demand.
Though Dr Seema, Medical Superintendent of the hospital, claimed that there was no shortage of medical oxygen, the consumption rate was 400-450 cylinders per day.
Against the demand of over 5,000 oxygen cylinders, the companies engaged in oxygen production are unable to meet the rising demand and supplying nearly 2,000 cylinders per day.
Unable to meet demand due to shortage of liquid gas
Vikas Huriya, one of the proprietors of Shakti Cryogenics (a firm which deals in manufacturing and supply of oxygen in Jalandhar and neighbouring districts), said amid the shortage of liquid gas they were dependent on machined gas only. “In spite of approaching the government several times, we could not get liquid gas to increase the production of oxygen cylinder. Against the consumption of 20 ton gas, we got only 8 ton gas on Sunday. Our machined gas plant has the capacity to produce 1,200 oxygen cylinders per day but we are managing to produce over 1,200. If liquid gas is provided, we can produce nearly 800 more cylinders. Before the outbreak of the pandemic, demand for oxygen cylinders was only around 600-700 cylinders per day — both in government and private hospitals. About 2,500-3,000 cylinders were in demand at the peak of the pandemic in August and September,” said Huriya.
Owing to the hike in fuel rates, the cost of raw material for the production of oxygen cylinders has gone up, over double the previous rates, says Huriya. Citing the recent emergency of oxygen cylinders at Military Hospital in Jalandhar Cantt, he said if we did not have enough liquid gas then things could turn differently.
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