The Union Health Ministry on Tuesday said there was no shortage of oxygen supply for medical use in the country, adding that there was surplus production.
The Ministry, however, cautioned that hospitals should have robust inventory management and encouraged rationalised use of oxygen to ensure that no artificial scarcity was created.
Rajesh Bhushan, Secretary, Union Health Ministry, said currently a little over 6% of COVID-19 patients in the country were on oxygen support in hospitals. This included 3.69% patients on oxygen support; 2.17% patients on ICU beds with oxygen support; and 0.36% patients on ventilator support.
We have been in touch with States to ensure that there is no delay in the supply of oxygen. Each State needs to ensure proper inventory management so that oxygen can be replenished in time, he said.
He added that States, including Delhi, Bihar, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, have been directed to increase their COVID-19 testing numbers to ensure that we are able to catch any missing persons.
We have written to States about the importance of RT-PCR (real-time polymerase chain reaction) tests of symptomatic negatives in antigen tests. To chase the virus, you have to catch missing persons, Mr. Bhushan said.
The Ministry in its release noted that 79,292 persons had recovered from COVID-19 and had been discharged in the last 24 hours, and the total number of recovered cases stands at 38,59,399.
The gap between recovered cases and active cases has crossed 28 lakh on Tuesday (28,69,338), said the Ministry.
Mr. Bhushan said that close to half (48.8%) of the active COVID-19 cases are concentrated in three States Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.
Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Kerala and Telangana contribute close to a quarter (24.4%) of the active cases.
Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu contribute 60.35% of the total active cases and are also reporting close to 60% (59.42%) of the total recovered cases. 1,054 case fatalities have been reported in the past 24 hours. Of the new deaths, nearly 69% were concentrated in the five States/UTs (Union Territories) of Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Delhi, he said.
Mr. Bhushan added that more than 37% of deaths reported were from Maharashtra (29,894 deaths). The State reported 34.44% of the deaths in the last 24 hours (363 deaths), he said.
Replying to a question about the possible second wave that the country may be seeing, Balram Bhargava, Director General, Indian Council of Medical Research, said, Several countries had a COVID peak, then it came down, but India has been able to curb very high peaks thanks to very effective lockdown. We have learned from other countries and keep our deaths under control.
He added that the cases of re-infection in COVID-19 continue to be rare and mild so far. We arent particularly worried, he said.
Speaking about the effectiveness of plasma therapy for COVID-19 treatment, he noted that this therapy had been used in the Ebola outbreak, etc. Studies have been done and are still being peer reviewed. Once thats done, national task force will look at it, Professor Bhargava said.
On vaccine candidate trials in India, he said that three vaccines were at the clinical trial stage in India. Cadila and Bharat Biotech have completed Phase 1 trials. Serum Institute has completed Phase 2-B3 trials and will start Phase 3 trial (with 1,500 patients at 14 locations) after clearances, he said.