Centre seeks data from states, UTs on deaths due to oxygen shortage

New Delhi: The Centre has asked states to provide data on deaths due to lack of oxygen during the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Source said that the Central government had written to the states and Union Territories, seeking statistics of such deaths, and will, after compilation of the data, present it in the Parliament.

The opposition has been continuously attacking the government after it told the Parliament on July 20 that states have not reported any death due to oxygen during the second wave.

In a reply to a question of Congress’ Rajya member K.C. Venugopal over deaths of people due to lack of oxygen, Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare Bharati Pravin Pawar said that health is a state subject and detailed guidelines for reporting of deaths had been issued by Union Health Ministry to all states and Union Territories.

“Accordingly, all states/UTs report cases and deaths to Union Health Ministry on a regular basis. However, no deaths due to lack of oxygen has been specifically reported by states/UTs,” she had said.

Pawar also said that Centre had supported the states and undertook a series of actions including provisioning medical oxygen, and other consumables to ensure clinical care of Covid-19 patients in view of steep rise of Covid-19 trajectory in the country during April-May 2021.

Noting that the supply of medical oxygen to hospitals is determined by contractual arrangements between the concerned hospital and the medical oxygen supplier, she said that due to unprecedented surge in demand of medical oxygen during the second wave, the demand in the country peaked to nearly 9,000 MT as compared to 3,095 MT during the first wave and the Centre had to step in to facilitate equitable distribution to the states.

The minister said that a dynamic and transparent framework for allocation of medical oxygen in consultation with states/UTs and all the stakeholders such as relevant ministries, manufacturers/suppliers of liquid oxygen etc. was prepared, and the active case load of the states and Union Territories was the primary determinant of allocation.

Other factors such as case doubling rate, available medical infrastructure and others were also given due consideration.

Further, the allocation was kept dynamic as per the changing pandemic load. The first allocation order was issued on April 15 and revised from time to time, based on the trends of active cases and supply position. A total allocation of 10,250 MT had been done to 26 high burden states as on May 28.

Pawar had said that the Centre, along with the state governments, took all possible steps to tackle the unprecedented surge in oxygen demand that arose in the second wave, including enhancement of liquid medical oxygen production from 5,700 MTs in August 2020 to 9,690 MTs in May 2021, restrictions on industrial use of oxygen, and augmentation of availability of containers.


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