Aurangabad: Demand for oxygen cylinders goes up 3-fold

The requirement of oxygen cylinders for treating COVID-19 patients has gone up by about three times in Aurangabad district, officials said on Sunday.

The district administration has also initiated steps to increase the oxygen storage capacity in hospitals here and has asked contractors to pace up the work, a health department official told PTI.

With the number of active COVID-19 cases reaching 15,341 in the district, the demand for oxygen supply has also gone up in hospitals and by patients in home isolation, another official said.

"The oxygen consumption in the district was 17.10 ton per day on March 14. It has now gone up to 49.50 ton per day," an official from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said.

The rates have been capped by the government and oxygen is being supplied at the rate of Rs 15.22 per cubic metre, which is the highest now. Earlier, the rate came down to Rs 12 when the demand was less, the official said.

The demand of oxygen cylinders in households has also gone up as more home isolation is being advised now, the FDA official said.

Every patient in home isolation may not need oxygen, but many of them are ordering cylinders as a precautionary measure, he said.

Local supplier Abdul Hakim said in January this year, he was supplying about 200 oxygen cylinders to hospitals and households here.

"Now, the demand has gone up to 750 to 800 oxygen cylinders per month. To meet the rising demand, we need to run our facilities round-the-clock, which has raised our expenses," he said.

Hence, the rate for refilling an oxygen cylinder has also gone up by nearly Rs 50, he said.

An oxygen cylinder of 7.5 cubic metre capacity was earlier refilled for Rs 230. The price has now gone up to Rs 280, he said.

Earlier, the deposit to be paid at the time of buying an oxygen cylinder was Rs 7,000, which has now reached Rs 10,000, Hakim said.

The hike is due to extra labour cost, transportation charges and running of the oxygen supply facilities round-the- clock, he added.

An official from the district Civil Hospital said the private and government medical facilities here have a total of 2,124 oxygen beds and 532 ICU beds.

"Out of 840 beds in government-run health centres in the district, nearly 350 have oxygen facility. The remaining beds will also have the oxygen facility in about 10 days," civil surgeon Dr Sundar Kulkarni said.

He said they may require around 78 KL (kilo litre) of oxygen per day at the peak of the viral infection here, for which preparations are underway.

"We need 32 cylinders of 7.5 cubic metre each in 24 hours at the civil hospital, which is second largest facility to treat COVID-19 patients here (after the Government College and Hospital). In January this year, the requirement was 10 to 15 such cylinders," he said.

As of now, there are 106 oxygen beds and 25 ventilator beds in the civil hospital, Kulkarni said.

The district administration has demanded 150 ventilators - 100 for the Government Medical College and Hospital and 50 for the civil hospital, another official said.

On Saturday, 1,394 new COVID-19 cases were reported in the district, taking the infection count to 86,981, an official said.

The district also recorded 21 deaths due to the viral infection on Saturday, raising the toll to 1,758.

So far, 69,882 patients have recovered from the infection, the official added.

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