The government is likely to lift restrictions on the use of liquid oxygen for some priority industries in the next 2-3 days as demand for medical oxygen has come down, a top government official said on Sunday. To make oxygen available to more people during the peak of the second wave of COVID-19, the Centre on April 25 had barred the use of liquid oxygen for any non-medical purpose and asked manufacturing units to maximise its production and make it available to the government for medical use.
“Demand for medical oxygen has come down. Some priority industries will get oxygen in the next 2-3 days,” the official told PTI. Exercising the powers conferred under the Disaster Management Act, Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla had directed the states to ensure that “use of liquid oxygen is not allowed for any non-medical purpose and all manufacturing units may maximise their production of liquid oxygen, and make it available…for medical purposes only”.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday also said that providing medical-grade oxygen to different states during the second wave of COVID-19 was a challenge. In normal times, daily production of liquid medical oxygen was 900 million tonnes (MT), which has now risen over 10 times to nearly 9,500 MT, the prime minister said. Liquid oxygen is used in steel making, chemical, pharmaceuticals, petroleum processing and paper manufacturing industries.
As per the Union health ministry’s update on Sunday, India recorded a single-day rise of 1,65,553 in new COVID-19 cases, the lowest in 46 days, taking the country’s infection tally to 2,78,94,800. The daily positivity rate declined to 8.02 per cent, remaining below the 10 per cent-mark for five consecutive days, while the weekly positivity rate dropped to 9.36 per cent, it said.