A new oxygen plant was inaugurated as preparation for the third wave at CWG, Akshardham Covid care centre in New Delhi on June 29, 2021.

(Wasim Sarvar/IANS)

The medical oxygen crisis during the second COVID-19 wave was one of the most apparent reasons for the devastating pandemic in India. The unfortunate situation of such an acute oxygen crisis was mainly caused by the poor delivery system, connectivity problems and other issues in the supply chain apart from the production capacity being much lower than the consumption. The national capital Delhi was amongst the worst-hit states.

As the threat of the third COVID-19 wave continues, the Delhi government has prepared a roadmap to ensure that there are no deaths due to the lack of oxygen, including several other measures like augmenting beds in hospitals, number of health workers, development of PSA oxygen plants and pediatric task force. The roadmap also includes bed management in hospitals, arranging medicines and the early completion of the vaccination program in Delhi.

The Delhi government has started installing oxygen generation plants and increasing hospital beds to accommodate 37,000 cases a day, as per estimate. However, the cases can go up to 45,000 a day in the worst-case scenarios.

To ramp up the oxygen supply in Delhi, the Kejriwal government recently approved the Medical Oxygen Production Policy with incentives.

Preparation to prevent oxygen crisis

A total of 42 PSA (pressure swing adsorption) plants have been installed in hospitals by the Delhi Government that may generate 50.08 metric tonnes of medical oxygen to prevent a repeat of the oxygen crisis in Delhi. Out of 42 PSAs, 13 plants which include seven in Delhi government hospitals and six in Centre-run hospitals have been set up using the PM Cares fund. However, other plants have been set up under CSR initiatives. At least 18 more PSA plants are likely to be set up in Delhi government hospitals by August 31 and three by October 15.

Apart from PSA plants, the Delhi government has worked towards maintaining the oxygen storage capacity. Three oxygen storage tanks have been built with a capacity of 57 metric tonnes per tank. A total of 18 oxygen tankers will be brought from Bangkok for an uninterrupted oxygen supply. Two cryogenic bottling plants with 12 MT capacities have been established.

Special Task Force

The Delhi Government has constituted two special task forces – pediatric special task force and state-level expert committee to efficiently handle the third COVID-19 wave.

The pediatric special task force with 8 members in the committee, headed by IAS Satya Gopal, will see the COVID-19 management keeping in view its impact on kids during the third wave. The 13-member state-level expert committee, headed by the same Satya Gopal, will prepare an action plan for health infrastructure in Delhi, oxygen supply, medicines and other requirements during the third wave.

Community-based health assistance

Including the medical oxygen supply, the national capital Delhi also hugely suffered the crisis of health workers during the peak in the second wave. Kejriwal has announced that 5,000 community health assistants who can be used as health workforce in the time of crisis will be trained. These health assistants are undergoing training at nine hospitals in Delhi to handle the critical situation of the pandemic, life-saving, first aid and home care treatment.

Graded Response Action Plan

The national capital Delhi has prepared a Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) to handle the third COVID-19 wave. Under the plan, four types of levels and colour-coded alert systems have been approved. The four colour codes – Yellow, Amber, Orange and Red – have been identified to differentiate the situation based on the COVID positivity rate (on two consecutive days), the cumulative number of new cases (over a week) and average oxygenated-bed occupancy (for a week). Likewise, a yellow alert will be issued if a positivity rate of over 0.5 per cent continues for two consecutive days along with 1,500 new cases in one week or 500 oxygen beds occupied in seven days.

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The above article has been published from a wire source with minimal modifications to the headline and text.

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