Eastern Naval Command to audit and operate oxygen plants in Andhra hospitals

The ENC teams are responsible for fixing leakages in oxygen plants, monitoring the condition of the plants and chalking out precautions to be taken.
 An employee refilling cylinders at an oxygen plant in Meerut
An employee refilling cylinders at an oxygen plant in Meerut
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The Eastern Naval Command (ENC) of the Indian Navy will operate and maintain oxygen plants in all government and teaching hospitals across Andhra Pradesh. The ENC will depute four of its teams for conducting an oxygen audit in the hospitals. The teams will inspect the oxygen supply infrastructure, pipelines and other equipment in government hospitals and suggest corrective measures, if any, according to Principal Secretary (Health) Anil Kumar Singhal. 

The ENC will take the responsibility of fixing leakages in oxygen plants, monitoring the condition of the plants and chalking out the precautions to be taken there. Four special teams have been formed and each team will be in-charge of three to four districts.

Addressing a press conference on Saturday evening, Singhal said the ENC has also agreed to ferry 25 cryogenic tankers from abroad to the state. "We have invited bids for purchase of liquid medical oxygen from foreign countries. As and when we find the sellers, the ENC will ship LMO to the state as well," Singhal said.The Navy officials have agreed to provide special vehicles for transportation of liquid medical oxygen containers for regular use and also to supply oxygen concentrators, D-type oxygen cylinders and other medical equipment required for Covid treatment.

Principal Secretary (Transport) and COVID-19 Special Officer M T Krishna Babu held talks with Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief of ENC Ajendra Bahadur Singh in this regard. The ENC has also agreed to make available 50 beds at its base hospital INS Kalinga for (civilian) COVID-19 patients. Besides, it would create another temporary facility with 150 beds at Kancharapalem in Visakhapatnam for civilian patients, the Principal Secretary added. The state government would provide doctors and other medical support staff at these facilities.

Singhal said the Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited, the corporate entity of Visakhapatnam Steel Plant, has already readied a 200-bed facility for treating coronavirus-infected persons. "RINL has agreed to create a facility of a total 1,000 beds in a phased manner," he added. The steel plant officials said that 250 beds will be available by May 30 while 600 beds will be available by June in that hospital, and requested the district administration to ensure that required doctors and medical staff are available accordingly. RINL, the corporate entity of the Visakhapatnam steel plant, has so far supplied 3,214 tonnes of liquid medical oxygen to AP and another 264 tonnes to Karnataka and Maharashtra.

Singhal said the Union government increased oxygen allocation to AP from 480 to 590 tonnes, "but even that is insufficient." The Andhra government requested the Centre that at least 1,000 tonnes of oxygen be supplied to the state, that too from nearby sources.

The Principal Secretary said they have requested the Department of Space to supply oxygen from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota to meet the medical requirements, if ISRO was not using it. "We came to know that about 90-100 tonnes of oxygen is available at Sriharikota. If made available, that could be used to meet the requirements of patients in SPS Nellore district, (where the space centre is also located)," Singhal said. 

On availability of beds for COVID-19 patients, the Principal Secretary said of the total 7,065 ICU beds (in both government and private hospitals), 6,300 were currently occupied. Of the 23,525 beds with oxygen supply facilities, 21,950 were filled. Another 14,784 patients were lodged in Covid Care Centres, he said.

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