New Delhi, April 22;

Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a high-level meeting to review the oxygen supply amid shortage faced by hospitals as the more deadly second wave of coronavirus sweeps the country.

The officials briefed the PM on the efforts undertaken in the last few weeks to improve the supply of oxygen, said a release from the Prime Minister’s Office.

“The PM spoke about the need to work rapidly on multiple aspects: increasing production of oxygen, increasing the speed of distribution and using innovative ways to provide oxygen support to health facilities,” it said.

The availability of medical oxygen, it said, has been increased by about 3,300 MT/ day with contributions from private and public steel plants, industries, oxygen manufacturers as well as through prohibition of supply of oxygen for non-essential industries.

The Prime Minister was informed how oxygen supply to states is steadily increasing due to high Covid caseload. India today saw a record Covid spike with 3.14 lakh infections in a day and 2,104 deaths. This is the fastest rise in cases and deaths any country has suffered till now.

Officers informed the PM that they are working together with the states to operationalise the 162 sanctioned oxygen plants as soon as possible. Last week, the centre okayed installation of those plants in public health facilities in all states amid growing demand of medical oxygen due to spike in coronavirus cases.

The PM directed the officials to ensure that oxygen supply to various states happen in a smooth, unhindered manner. He spoke about the need to fix responsibility with the local administration in cases of obstruction, his office added. The ministries were asked by the PM to explore various innovative ways to increase production and supply of oxygen.

Representatives from the medical community also spoke about the need for judicious use of oxygen and how an audit in some states has decreased oxygen demand without affecting the condition of patients.

The PM also stressed that the states should come down heavily on hoarding.