With Covid cases and fatalities rising in Punjab, Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh on Monday directed the Health Department to step up indigenous manufacturing of medical oxygen to supplement the current supplies in order to ensure that there is no shortage of this critical commodity to tackle any future crisis.

The state, which has been procuring all its medical oxygen from neighbouring areas, has now decided to also go in for internal manufacturing to meet any shortfall that could arise with Covid cases spiking in the state.

Till now, Punjab was procuring all its medical oxygen supplies from other states, including Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Haryana. However, as cases continue to spike, and amid reports of oxygen shortages in several parts of the country, the CM stressed the need to generate additional supplies through internal manufacturing also.

In line with this decision, the health department has so far issued license to one industrial oxygen supplier in Punjab to manufacture Medical Oxygen, while six packaging units have been allowed to package oxygen for medical use.

With this, the state now has internal capacity to manufacture 800 medical oxygen cylinders and packaging of 2000 units per day, and the government hopes that with the supplies already being procured from other states, this would help cope with any further escalation in demand in the coming weeks.

The state government has also appointed a nodal officer to monitor the supply and demand of medical oxygen amid spiralling cases of Covid, and the CM has asked the health department to ensure that indigenous production and packaging is further scaled up to meet any eventuality.

During a virtual meeting to assess the situation arising out of the pandemic, Amarinder directed the department to ensure that there is no shortage of oxygen for treatment of Covid patients in the state.

The CM was informed that the state currently had adequate supplies of Oxygen to meet the demand triggered by an increasing number of Covid cases. He was further told that of the 6653 Covid patients admitted at the Government Medical Colleges (GMCs) in the state, 5269 had recovered and been discharged, with 550 still under treatment.

A special invitee to the meeting, Professor of Cardiology, AIIMS, Ambuj Roy said the majority of the Covid deaths in Punjab had taken place after 6 August. At 2.96 per cent the Case Fatality Rate (CFR) in Punjab was higher than the national average of 1.65 per cent as was the deaths per million at 78.5 (national average 58.3).