Covid-19: Centre warned of oxygen shortage twice; only Kerala paid attention to the warning

When the country was struggling with Covid-19 at its peak, the government had invited tenders for 150 pressure swing adsorption (PSA) oxygen plants
Covid-19: Centre warned of oxygen shortage twice; only Kerala paid attention to the warning
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According to a report published by a media outlet, the Central government was given a warning twice regarding the shortage of oxygen supply during the initial outbreak of Covid-19. On April 1, 2020, the first alarm was given by the expert committee introduced by the Central government in preparing Covid prevention activities. The report suggested that the country might witness a severe shortage of oxygen supply.

Reportedly, the second warning was given by the parliamentary standing committee on health. On October 16, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhooshan has described the goodness of using oxygen in treating Covid-19. The report was submitted to the Rajya Sabha on 21 November 2020 stated that the Centre had asked NPPA to control the price of oxygen cylinders.

When the country was struggling with Covid at its peak, the government had invited tenders for 150 pressure swing adsorption (PSA) oxygen plants. The number of sanctioned facilities were increased as the government said it had allocated Rs 201.58 crore for implementing 162 PSA plant across the country. However, reportedly, only 33 of these had been introduced around the country, announced the Union Health Ministry on April 18.

On the other hand, Kerala was the only state that paid attention to the warning. Currently, Kerala has a production capacity of 204 tonnes per day. In 2019, Inox Air products, a private sector company implemented at Palakkad generates 147 tonnes a day. The Kerala Minerals and Metals Limited established a plant in September 2020 which also produces 7 tonnes per day, while the Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited plant produces 0.322 tonnes per day. Also, the 11 Air Separation Units (ASU) across Kerala produce 44 tonnes of oxygen per day.

Meanwhile, the Kerala health department has made changes in the discharge guidelines for Covid-19 patients. The new guideline states that a Covid negative certificate is not necessary while discharging patients with no serious illness and also those with mild symptoms can be discharged three days after the symptoms subside. However, those with the serious infection will be tested on the 14th day and those discharged without testing should be home quarantined for a total of 17 days.

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