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India in ‘extremely comfortable position’ in terms of oxygen availability: Health Ministry

There has been no scarcity in oxygen supply in the last 10 months with the daily production capacity enhanced to 6,862 metric tonnes by September and projected to further increase to 7,191 metric tonnes by the end of October, the Health Ministry said on Tuesday.

At a press conference, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said the Centre has initiated the process of installing 246 oxygen generation plants in 18 states and union territories in the first phase, out of which 67 were at various stages of completion.

In the second phase, 150 more such plants in 30 states and UTs would be installed, he said, adding India was in a “comfortable position” in terms of oxygen availability.

“There has been no shortage of oxygen in the last 10 months. There is no paucity at present also. We are in an extremely comfortable position,” Bhushan added.

Giving more details, Bhushan said the number of patients on oxygen support, which includes those in ICU, ventilator and oxygen supported beds, increased from 43,022 on September 1 to 75,000 in the third week of that month. The number then started declining and as of Tuesday it was over 57,000, he said.

“Though there has been a dip, it is still higher as compared to September 1. However, it should not be a reason to worry as our capacity is much higher,” the health secretary said.

Elucidating further, Bhushan said on an average, 2,397 metric tonnes of medical oxygen was consumed daily from September 2 to 8, and even then 15,282 metric tonnes of oxygen was in stock at the end of the week.

The average consumption increased to 2,791 MT per day from September 9 to September 15, which was the peak period of consumption. Despite that, 14,932 MT oxygen was left in stock at the end of the week, he said.

Consumption came down to 2,503 MT per day from October 6 to 14 and 17,103 MT was left at the end of the week, Bhushan added.

“Oxygen production capacity has been enhanced from 5,913 MT in April to 6,862 MT in September. It will be further increased to 7191 MT by the end of October,” the health secretary said.

Giving other details, he said more than 9.6 crore COVID-19 tests have been conducted so far. The cumulative, weekly and daily positivity rate was 7.90 per cent, 6.0 per cent and 4.5 per cent respectively.

“COVID-19 fatality rate has declined from 1.77 pc on September 1 to 1.52 pc as on date. New COVID-19 cases reported in a span of 24 hours below was 50,000 after 84 days,” Bhushan said.

He further said that India’s COVID-19 cases per million population reported in the last seven days stood at 310, while the global average was 315.

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