COVID-19 | Gujarat urges Centre to raise oxygen allocation to State

It said that the Centre’s current allocation of 975 metric tonnes is way below the requirements of the State.

The Gujarat government has requested the Centre to raise to 1,400 metric tonnes the allocation of medical oxygen to the State by May 12, saying that due to the shortage of the life-saving gas, it was unable to operationalise 11,500 additional beds for COVID-19 patients.

It said that the Centre’s current allocation of 975 metric tonnes (MT) is way below the requirements of the State.

“The Government of India has not increased the allocation of [medical oxygen to] Gujarat beyond 975MT, which is creating tremendous distress to the patients seeking hospitalisation and oxygen therapy, resulting in denial of medical treatment to needy despite availability of beds and qualified personnel in hospitals,” Gujarat Chief Secretary Anil Mukim said in a letter to Union Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla.

The letter written on May 6 was annexed to an affidavit that the State government filed on Friday in the Supreme Court, which was hearing a suo motu PIL on issues related to COVID-19.

There is an immediate demand of 1,190 MT liquid medical oxygen in Gujarat, Mr. Mukim said.

The total number of oxygen beds (in the State) have gone up from 53,913 on April 26, when the additional allocation was sought, to 57,368, due to an increase in COVID-19 cases, the letter said.

Accordingly, Gujarat’s requirement of medical oxygen has gone up from projected 1,250 MT (as on April 30), to 1,400 MT for today (May 6) and is likely to increase to 1,600 tonnes by May 15, Mr. Mukim said in the letter.

Despite mobilising additional oxygen from all ASU/PSA plants, etc, the State is not able to meet the rising demand for oxygen and as a consequence, is not able to operationalise additional 11,500 beds, created with oxygen line, just for want of oxygen, he added.

This is causing tremendous distress in rural areas, because now the COVID-19 cases are picking up there and yet, hospitalisation with oxygen therapy is not available resulting in long wait before the hospital admission, the letter said.

“Under these circumstances, I request you to immediately enhance allocation of medical liquid oxygen under Central allocation to Gujarat to 1,200 MT for today (May 6) and 1,400 MT for May 12,” Mr. Mukim said.

Meanwhile, in the same affidavit, the State government said that it has administered 2,24,749 doses of COVID-19 vaccine to 18-44 age group till May 5 and orders have been placed for two crore doses of Covishield from Serum Institute of India in Pune and 50 lakh doses of Covaxin from Bharat Biotech in Hyderabad on April 25 for that purpose.

As far as timeline for vaccination of the 18-44 age group is concerned, it depends on the availability of the vaccines, it said.

The State is maintaining continuous contact and follow-ups with the manufacturers for the early supply of vaccines, it said.

For people above the age of 45, as total of 3,95,920 doses of Covishield and 2,00,490 doses of Covaxin are available, the government said.

In terms of bed availability for COVID-19 patients, there were 1,05,701 beds across 2,446 institutions as on May 6, out of which 59,186 are oxygen beds and 13,733 are ICU beds. There are 6,407 ventilators in Gujarat.

The number of beds was 42,000 in the first week of April, it said.

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