Pakistan may also face shortage of oxygen gas for the treatment of respiratory insufficiencies like India during the third wave of COVID-19 if the life-saving gas continues to be supplied for the industrial sector, oxygen producers warned on Friday, saying at the moment, bulk of the oxygen being produced in the country is being supplied for the treatment of COVID-19 patients.
“Hundred percent of oxygen produced by us at the Pakistan Oxygen Limited is being supplied to the healthcare facilities due to multifold increase in its demand after surge in COVID-19 cases. If cases continue to rise, hospitals may face shortage of oxygen as we are producing at our maximum capacity," an official of the Pakistan Oxygen Limited, an oxygen producing company, told The News on Friday.There were around 4,652 COVID-19 patients on high and low oxygen throughout the country as well as on ventilators on Friday, National Command and Operation Center (NCOC) data said and health officials claimed that patients requiring oxygen were on the rise due to rise in the COVID-19 positivity rate and hospitalization of patients in the country.
Health officials claimed that the number of people with COVID-19 pneumonia was very high during the third wave of pandemic in Pakistan as compared to the first and second wave, saying it was evident from the figures which show that over 4,652 patients were on oxygen while hospitalization of patients was constantly on the rise in the country.
“As compared to first and second wave, COVID-19 pneumonia cases are very high this time and this number is constantly rising. Most of the hospitalized patients require oxygen as the life-saving gas is the most important intervention in saving COVID-19 patients at the health facilities. NCOC has already warned that 90 percent of our beds of oxygen facility are already filled," said Dr. Shahzad Ali Khan, Dean of Health Services Academy, while talking to The News on Friday.
Dr. Khan maintained that if the number of patients requiring oxygen rises due to increase in number of COVID-19 patients in southern parts of the country, especially Karachi and Hyderabad, it could put extra burden over the oxygen producing capacity of the companies and urged people to take precautionary measures in this scenario to avoid situation like India.
On the other hand, Pakistan Oxygen Limited official maintained that oxygen produced in Pakistan is used for both treatment of respiratory problems as well as in the industry where it is used in the shipping industry, used as a heat source for welding, in paper industry and some other industries but at the moment, most of the oxygen being produced in the country was being supplied to the health facilities to take care of COVID-19 patients.
He said there were five oxygen producers in Pakistan, who were supplying oxygen to the health facilities and to the industrial sector but added that entire production of their company was being supplied to health facilities in the country.“In the past, we used to have even one month’s stock, but at the moment, we are supplying all the production to the health facilities on daily basis. The industrial sector is still being supplied oxygen at the moment and if demands increase, authorities would have to cut the oxygen supply to industrial sector or we may face the situation like India also," the POL official added.
Representative of an oxygen producer Multan Chemicals Limited, Muneeb Khan Babar said the oxygen producing sector was ‘under stress’ at the moment due to surge in demand by the health sector and agreed that oxygen producers would have to curtail the supply to industrial sector to meet the demands of health sector to save lives of patients of COVID-19.
“In this third wave, we are under stress but situation is not like India. If all our plants work at maximum capacity and we divert the gas from the industrial sector to the health sector, we can meet the domestic requirement of the health sector," Muneeb Khan Babar said but added that these oxygen producing plants need uninterrupted supply of electricity to continue production of oxygen.
To a query, he said there were five oxygen producing companies in Pakistan including Multan Chemicals Limited, POL, Ghani Gasses, Shareef Gasses Limited and Sultan Gasses Limited and added that Pakistani oxygen producers were capable of meeting the domestic requirements if they worked at their maximum capacity and were facilitated by the authorities.
Source: The News