No restriction should be imposed on inter-state movement of medical oxygen, the Union Health Ministry said on Friday, while strongly reinforcing that it is the responsibility of every state and Union Territory to ensure hospitalised COVID-19 patients receive oxygen. The ministry said it has come to its knowledge that a few states are trying to curb free inter-state movement of oxygen supplies by exercising provisions under various Acts and also mandating manufacturers or suppliers in their jurisdiction to restrict oxygen supplies to only hospitals of the state.
In view of this, the health ministry has reiterated the critical importance of oxygen in hospitals for management of critical COVID-19 patients, it said. In a letter to states and union territories (UTs), Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan has emphasised that availability of adequate and uninterrupted supply of medical oxygen is an important pre-requisite for managing moderate and severe cases of COVID-19, the ministry said in a statement.
Bhushan has urged states and UTs to ensure that no restriction is imposed on the movement of medical oxygen between them, it said. It has been strongly reinforced that it is every state’s responsibility to ensure that every hospitalised COVID-19 patient receives oxygen, the ministry said.
"It has been again brought to their notice that medical oxygen constitutes an essential public health commodity and any impediment in the supplies of medical oxygen in the country may critically impact the management of patients suffering from COVID-19 disease in other parts of the country,” it said.
"Moreover, some of the major oxygen manufacturers/suppliers already have existing supply agreements with hospitals in various states with a legal obligation to fulfil such agreements,” it said.
The ministry said that adequate supply of oxygen throughout the country has enabled effective clinical care of hospitalised moderate and severe cases, in conjunction with other measures. The adopted host of strategies have actively resulted in rising recovery rate and steadily declining case fatality rate (1.67 per cent currently), the ministry underlined.
It said as on date, less than 3.7 per cent of active patients are on oxygen support. The Centre-led COVID management strategy is based on standard of care treatment guidelines. These guidelines have ensured uniform and standardised quality of medical care in all COVID facilities, including hospitals, the statement said.
For moderate and severe cases, adequate oxygen support, appropriate and timely administration of anti-coagulants and widely available and inexpensive corticosteroids, in accordance with protocol, can be considered to be the mainstay of COVID-19 therapy, it said. India’s COVID-19 caseload mounted to 45,62,414 and the death toll climbed to76,271 with a record96,551 infections and 1,209 fatalities being reported in a day, while the recoveries have surged to 35,42,663, ministry data updated at 8 am showed.