COVID: Eyeing self-reliance, Delhi government’s medical oxygen policy notified



NEW DELHI: A Delhi government’s policy to make the city “self-reliant” in production of medical oxygen to tackle any COVID-19 crisis as seen during the second wave or any other medical emergency in future, has been notified, officials said on Friday.

The Medical Oxygen Production Promotion Policy of Delhi 2021 was approved by the Delhi Cabinet on August 3.

“The ongoing COVID-19 crisis fuelled by a new 2021 strain of the virus has put an enormous pressure on existing healthcare infrastructure, including medical logistics, in the NCT of Delhi,” reads the gazette notification dated August 19.

A large number of Covid patients need continuous oxygen support at hospitals and at homes.

This sudden increased demand coupled with negligible oxygen production in the state has necessitated dependence on resources outside Delhi, it said.

“As the number of patients requiring oxygen support increased in a very short span of time, the pressure on supply of medical oxygen to hospitals was significantly strained, leading to notable delay in movement of oxygen from outside Delhi,” it said.

Though the present situation is better, but a similar crisis may reoccur in future and it is needed to be better equipped to manage such a situation in future, reads the notification.

“This policy has been introduced with an aim to make Delhi self-reliant in production of medical oxygen to meet with any such crisis or medical emergency in future,” it said.

The objective of the policy is to increase production of oxygen in Delhi through setting up of either new manufacturing enterprises or expanding the production capacity of existing units for uninterrupted oxygen supply to hospitals or nursing homes during the health crisis caused by COVID-19 or otherwise,” it reads.

The policy also seeks to facilitate storage and transportation of medical oxygen in Delhi.

The objective of the Medical Oxygen Production Promotion Policy of Delhi 2021 is to ensure time-bound fulfilment of several targets by incentivising early investment in the production or storage infrastructure for medical oxygen, including setting up of liquid oxygen (LOX) manufacturing facilities of minimum 50 MT capacity, up to a total of 100 MT.

Non-captive oxygen generation plants (PSA/Air Separation Unit technology) of minimum 10 MT and maximum 50 MT capacity up to 100 MT is also one of the targets.

Other targets include captive oxygen generation plants (PSA/Air Separation Unit technology) of minimum 500 LPM capacity at hospitals and nursing homes to cater to their peak demand for medical oxygen, up to a total capacity of 200 MT, reads the notification.

Cryogenic tankers of minimum 10 MT carrying capacity for exclusive purpose of ferrying liquid medical oxygen (LMO), up to 500 MT capacity; and LMO storage tanks of minimum 10 MT capacity, up to 1,000 MT capacity, are among the targets for the policy.

Applicants shall have a minimum experience of three years either in the production or refilling of liquid or gaseous oxygen for medical or industrial use, the notification said.

Among the eligibility criteria under this policy, the notification reads, if the eligible medical oxygen generation units are also producing industrial oxygen, the same will not disqualify them for incentives under this policy.

Only those hospitals and nursing homes shall be eligible under this policy or scheme, which are registered with the department of health and family welfare of the Delhi government, it added.

“No unit, which has obtained subsidy or incentive for setting up the plant from any other agency, shall not be eligible for subsidy/incentive under this policy/scheme,” the notification reads.

Delhi had battled against an acute shortage of oxygen in April and May as hospitals sent out SOS calls to authorities to replenish their dwindling stocks.

Several private healthcare facilities had even requested the government to move out their patients.

The day cabinet had approved the policy, the city government in a statement had said, “Power subsidy will be made available to liquid oxygen generation plants and non-captive oxygen generation plants at Rs 4 per unit consumed in the manufacturing process for the first five years from the date of commencement of commercial production”.

The minimum lock-in period for the beneficiaries under this scheme shall be five years, the notification reads.

No death due to COVID-19 was recorded in Delhi on Friday, while 57 fresh cases were reported with a positivity rate of 0.08 per cent, according to data shared by the city health department.

This is the eleventh time since the starting of the second wave of the pandemic in the national capital that zero fatality has been logged in a day.

On July 18, July 24, July 29, August 2, August 4, August 8, August 11 and August 12, August 13 and August 16 too, no death due to COVID-19 was recorded, according to official data.

On March 2 this year, the national capital had reported zero death due to the virus.

On that day, the number of single-day infections stood at 217 and the positivity rate was 0.33 per cent.

The second wave swept the city during April-May period.

On Friday, 57 fresh cases as the positivity rate rose to 0.08 per cent, according to the latest bulletin.

Twenty-five fresh cases of COVID-19, the lowest since April 15 last year, and two deaths due to the disease were recorded on Thursday, while the positivity rate had stood at 0.04 per cent, according to the official figures.

On Wednesday, the city had registered 36 cases and four fatalities, while the positivity rate had stood at 0.05 per cent.

On Tuesday, the city recorded 38 cases and four deaths, while the positivity rate stood at 0.07 per cent.

The infection rate which had reached to 36 per cent in the last week of April, has now come down to 0.08 per cent.

On February 16, ninety-four people were diagnosed Covid positive while the daily tally was 96 on January 27, according to official figures.

Despite fall in daily cases in the last several days, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had recently cautioned that the chances of the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic were quite real, while he asserted that his government was preparing on a “war-footing” to combat it.

Delhi had been reeling under a brutal second wave of the pandemic that is sweeping the country, claiming a massive number of lives daily, and the oxygen supply shortage issue at various hospitals had added to the woes.

Since April 19, both daily cases and single-day deaths count had been spiralling up, with over 28,000 cases and 277 deaths recorded on April 20; rising to 306 fatalities on April 22.

On May 3, the city registered a record 448 deaths, according to the official data.

However, the number of cases have shown a downward trend and the positivity rate too has been shrinking in the last several weeks.

The number of deaths per day, has also been showing a decline in the last several days.

On May 15, Kejriwal had said, “The virus is reducing in Delhi slowly and steadily, and I hope it diminishes completely and does not rise again. However, we are not going to become negligent in anyway”, while sounding a tone of caution.

Following the relaxations in norms, the Delhi Metro is running with full seating capacity from July 26, with still no provision for standing travel for commuters.

A total of 73,718 tests, including 51,028 RT-PCR tests and 22,690 rapid antigen tests, were conducted a day ago, according to the health bulletin issued on Friday.

The number of cumulative cases on Friday stood at 14,37,274.

Over 14.11 lakh patients have recovered from the virus.

The number of active cases increased to 459 on Friday from 448 a day before, according to the bulletin.

The number of people under home isolation was 135 on Friday while it was 140 a day before, and the number of containment zones slightly increased to 237 from 234 on Thursday, it said.

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