Centre's advisory on O2 concentrators suitable for Covid patients at home

Mumbai: The Union Ministry of Health has issued an advisory on oxygen concentrators suitable for Covid-19 case management in home settings. The ministry said that oxygen concentrators with a capacity of less than five litres per minute may not be sold under the misleading label of ‘for home-based COVID care’. The device should have minimum continuous flow of up to five litres per minute or more, an oxygen monitor to verify concentration and a digital or analogue meter that displays cumulative hours of device operation.

The ministry said the advisory is necessary as many people are not aware about these minimum parameters for oxygen concentrators and therefore, may be using those not suitable for Covid management. “This advisory is issued to inform people about minimum standards of oxygen concentrators for COVID 19 case management for use especially in home settings,” it added. “The aim is to provide minimum parameters that must be verified by people before using an oxygen concentrator for COVID 19 case management in home settings,” said the ministry.

According to the ministry, oxygen concentrators must be purchased with consumables required to operate, user care instructions and protocols including guidance for replacement of accessories and consumables and safe decontamination of reusable parts, indicating if they are generic or brand related.

“The intended use or clinical purpose of oxygen concentrators is the delivery of low-flow, continuous clean and concentrated oxygen, preferably with concentration of 90% or more, from a room area which usually contains only 21% oxygen, At present various models having different capacities of continuous flow (one to 10 litres per minute) and widely varying concentrations of oxygen are being marketed,” said the ministry.

The ministry said it had, from advised time to time that oxygen concentrators with a flow capacity of five-litre/minute or more and delivering oxygen with concentration of 90 per cent or more are suitable for management of Covid-19 patients at the Covid care centres, dedicated Covid Health Centres and in home settings. The World Health Organisation has also prescribed these norms for oxygen concentrators.

Further, the ministry has strongly advised that all sellers must prominently display the information for each model of oxygen concentrator for sale. “The information with regard to continuous flow capacity in litres per minute, percentage of oxygen that a concentrator generates and the minimum retail rate should be displayed prominently,” the ministry said the ministry.

The Centre’s advisory came days after it allowed the import of oxygen concentrators for personal use through post, courier or e-commerce portals under the gift category. The exemption for oxygen concentrators is allowed only for a period till July 31, 2021.

“The import of goods, including those purchased from e-commerce portals, by post or courier, where customs clearance is sought as a gift, is prohibited, except for life-saving drugs/medicines/oxygen concentrators and Rakhi (but not gifts related to Rakhi). The exemption for oxygen concentrators is allowed only for a period till July 31, 2021 for personal use,” said the Centre in its notification.

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