Express News Service
CHANDIGARH: With oxygen demand currently standing at 250 MT per day and expected to go up to 300 MT in the near future in Punjab, the state government on Saturday ordered the closure of operations in the iron and steel plants to divert oxygen for medical use.
The government also decided to establish Oxygen Control Rooms at the state and district levels.
Six patients died of O2 shortage at a private hospital in Amritsar on Saturday morning due to the non-availability of medical oxygen.
Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh said the state government will convey its decision to the Centre. He asked for a feasibility report from the power department on the use of thermal plants for providing medical oxygen.
He also directed the authorities concerned to ensure that oxygen supply to private hospitals is optimally used and rationalised across the state. Reacting to reports of the demand to increase in the price of oxygen by suppliers, he asked PSIC (Punjab State Information Commission) to discuss, negotiate and settle the pricing with bulk suppliers and inform Principal Secretary, Medical Education, and Research, on the final decision.
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In another decision, he ordered PHSC to procure 100 more oxygen concentrators (including 50 approved earlier) in addition to 234 oxygen concentrators already being utilised in Covid facilities. It was pointed out that oxygen concentrators can support L2 facilities with current patient load, and also help increasethe number of L2 beds in facilities such as the one in Tarn Taran and in Gurdaspur where more L2 beds are needed.
The Principal Secretary (Industries) has been directed to urgently set up a state control room at Udyog Bhawan, Chandigarh, with support from Director Industries and Commerce) and other officers. The PS Industries has also been asked to get the control rooms in districts set up at the earliest.
The state control room will ensure that all oxygen supply is closely supervised and directly monitored by the government. The CM directed the Department of Health and Family Welfare and Punjab Police to provide all necessary support in this regard.
The district-level control rooms will map all oxygen vendors, suppliers, bottlers and re-fillers for each hospital, so that it can monitor and facilitate oxygen provision accordingly.
Chief Secretary Vini Mahajan said later that two senior officers — Harpreet Sudan and Rahul Gupta — are being posted to the state control room to coordinate all activities.