Union health ministry has asked all state governments and Union Territories to ensure sufficient availability of medical oxygen to face any challenges that may arise in the wake of any potential increase in Covid-19 cases in the country.

In a letter to the states and UTs on December 24, Manohar Agnani, additional secretary, Ministry of Health wanted all PSA plants, oxygen concentrators, oxygen cylinders and other oxygen related infrastructure are well set up and functioning properly.

"Though Covid cases in the country are low and not surging as of now, but to face any challenges arising in future, the operationalisation and maintenance of these medical infrastructures is of at most importance. You are requested to direct all the concerned departments to ensure that all PSA plants are kept fully functional and regular mock drills are being conducted to check them," the letter said.

The ministry also wanted the states and UTs to ensure availability of liquid medical oxygen in the health facilities and uninterrupted supply chain for their refilling. Ensuring the availability of functional life support equipments such as ventilators, BiPAP and SpO2 systems along with their consumables was another request. The letter also instructed that all oxygen control rooms should be reinvigorated at states/UTs for prompt resolutions of oxygen related issues and challenges and wanted on boarding of all healthcare facilities utilising oxygen to ODAS platform for daily oxygen demand and consumption monitoring.

During the last pandemic wave, the central government had supported states and UTs to install and commission all oxygen related infrastructure to ensure availability of medical oxygen at a cost effective and reliable manner in public health facilities across the country.

The ministry has also been holding weekly review meetings ever since with all states and UTs to ensure that these medical oxygen equipments are well set up and functioning properly.

The current message, the letter says, is to be prepared to face any new challenges, if any, that may arise in future.

Ever since there has been a report of spike in trajectory of Covid-19 cases from countries like Japan, the United States, South Korea, Brazil, France and China, the health ministry has been sending advisories to stakeholder departments and ministries in the states and UTs. It had asked the states to ramp up their vigil against new Covid-19 cases by getting the sample of such patients undergo genome testing to identify the illness causing variant. The ministry has also begun random Covid-19 tests among 2% of international travellers arriving in Indian airports to effectively monitor the presence of the new Covid-19 variant in India.

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