Health Minister Zahid Maleque on Tuesday said there is nothing to be worried over the sudden halt in oxygen import from India since the country has the capacity to meet the current demand of it from the internal sources.
“Coronavirus has devastated India for lack of oxygen. We’re now not getting oxygen from India. But there’s nothing to be worried about. We don’t import oxygen from India round the year. When corona reached its peak, we imported 40-50 tonnes of oxygen,” he said.
Speaking at a press briefing on the premises of Bangladesh College of Physicians and Surgeons (BCPS), the minister said, “Oxygen has not been coming from India for four-five days, but we’re managing everything and we’ve no crisis of oxygen.”
He said hospitals not only use liquid oxygen, but also gas oxygen. “There’s no dearth of gas oxygen in Bangladesh due to the huge production capability of it.”
Before installing the oxygen lines at the hospitals, Maleque said gas oxygen were mostly being used in the country’s hospitals. “We’ve planned to buy the liquid oxygen from local producers and provide it to our hospitals. Our 40-50 hospitals have the facilities to use the gas oxygen and we've asked them to use gas oxygen.”
He said so far Bangladesh is in a fairly good position in terms of Oxygen supply and production.
The minister said they have also booked 40 tonnes of oxygen in the industrial sector for the use of patients in case of emergency.
He said there is now no crisis of oxygen in the country’s hospitals to deal with the Covid patients. "If the number of Covid patients rises three times and reaches 21,000 from the current 7,000 then we won’t be able to meet the demand for oxygen. So, we must take steps to reduce the Covid infections."
Maleque said the DGHS has already contacted industries that use liquid oxygen to collect it from using it during the crisis. "We’re planning to import small oxygen plants.”
He said the government has set up central oxygen lines in 100 hospitals so that the covid patients can have it whenever necessary. “We’re installing the oxen plants in some other hospitals and it’ll be completed by 10-15 days.”
The minister said there was no high-flow nasal cannula and oxygen concentrator in the country when the coronavirus first hit it, but now around 3,000 such equipment are being used in Bangladesh to provide treatment to the Covid patients.
He said coronavirus cannot be controlled by giving treatment to the affected patients. “We’ve now 7,000 beds. If the number of patients increases to 21,000, we won’t be able to accommodate them. We should keep it in mind.”
Maleque said all must maintain the health safety rules, social distancing and wear masks to contain the virus transmission.
He said the coronavirus infection came under control early this year, but the second wave of the virus has created due to people’s reckless attitude, travelling spree, mass gathering, and apathy to the health safety rules. If we don’t take a lesson from such mistakes, the third wave may come.”
The health minister said 70 to 80 percent of infections and deaths have been reported in Dhaka, Chattogram, Rajshahi, Sylhet and Khulna City Corporation areas. “So, people in these areas need to remain aware and strictly follow the health safety rules."