Although Karnataka’s liquid medical oxygen consumption — which had reached a peak during the second wave of the pandemic — has reduced from 158.66 tonnes in July-end to 133.93 tonnes by the end of August, there has been a considerable increase in consumption in nine districts.
According to the data from the State’s oxygen management team, the consumption has gone up in Dakshina Kannada, Mysuru, Koppal, Belagavi, Tumakuru, Udupi, Raichur, Kalaburgi and Mandya. Over 40% of the total oxygen usage in August was in these districts. In July, these districts cumulatively contributed 30.5% of the total oxygen consumption.
Although some of these nine districts are bordering Kerala, officials said the increased consumption could be due to non-COVID services. “We have opened up all non-COVID services now and several surgeries that were deferred due to COVID are being conducted. The rise in oxygen usage is mainly due to this,” said State Health Commissioner K.V. Trilok Chandra.
C.N. Manjunath, nodal officer for labs and testing in the State’s COVID-19 task force, said many North Karnataka districts are consistently showing a low rate of COVID-19 infection. “These districts are reporting cases in single digit for the past few days, and the occupancy of oxygen beds, set aside for COVID-19, has also reduced drastically,” he said.
As of August 30, of the total 47,647 oxygenated beds in all hospitals across the State, only 4,286 had been occupied. The State’s daily oxygen requirement had crossed 1,000 tonnes during the peak of the second wave.
New oxygen plants
Based on the oxygen requirement during the second wave, the State has started preparations for the third wave and is working on achieving self-sustainability in terms of oxygen supply for medical purposes.
Health and Medical Education Minister K. Sudhakar told The Hindu on Saturday that the State was determined to build a robust oxygen-supply chain. “Hitherto, oxygen supply to hospitals was mostly centralised, and that resulted in severe strain on the supply chain. So, we are trying to localise oxygen supply at the hospital level,” he said.
Of the 246 oxygen-generation plants allotted to Karnataka through various sources, including PM Cares and CSR funds, 120 pressure swing adsorption plants have been installed as of August 27. As many as 95 of these have been commissioned so far and another 25 plants are awaiting commissioning, he said.
The Minister said these plants would work as captive oxygen plants in government hospitals. “Work on the remaining 50% of the 246 plants is under progress, and at various stages of construction. We are on a mission mode to complete the remaining plants by this month-end,” the Minister added.