Oxygen dearth looms large
Coronavirus Update, News

Oxygen dearth looms large

April 20, 2021
  • City requires six tonnes of medical oxygen per week
  • Tough time if patients requiring oxygen increase

Mysore/Mysuru: Amid a rising COVID curve, fear of oxygen shortage looms large over private and government hospitals in city. They are facing scarcity of medical oxygen since the last one week. 

The situation is likely to become grim in the coming days in case there is an exponential increase in COVID-19 cases especially if the number of patients who require oxygenated beds. All big hospitals including private and Government have reserved certain beds for patients whose oxygen saturation level is low. Continuous supply of oxygen — up to 10 litres a minute — is supplied through pipes in a pressure-controlled environment. 

Oxygen is stored in liquid format and not many hospitals in city have liquid oxygen storage tanks. To cater to the oxygen supply needs of such hospitals, small cylinders are filled with oxygen by private agencies. There are a couple of oxygen supply companies in city but now they are feeling the pinch with reduced supply of liquid oxygen from other places like Bengaluru.

Liquid oxygen is supplied by big companies to smaller ones like in Mysuru in huge tankers that come by road. Suppliers say that the demand has reached the peak in Bengaluru and as such, companies have reduced oxygen supplies to smaller cities like Mysuru. Naturally, this has created a kind of scarcity as second wave of COVID-19 pandemic is hospitalising more and more people in the last one month.

Shortage in supply

Speaking to Star of Mysore this morning, J. Govinda Nayak of Mangala Ravi Enterprises at Yadavagiri Industrial Estate said that medical oxygen to Mysuru was supplied by Bhorukha Gas Limited, Bengaluru. Mangala Ravi Enterprises supplies oxygen to almost all hospitals in Mysuru. The company also supplies oxygen to oxygenated ambulances. “I am facing an acute shortage of liquid oxygen. The quantity of liquid oxygen supply has reduced by 50 percent,” he said. 

Explaining the seriousness of the situation, he said that every day he supplies 300 cylinders with 7,000-litre capacity. “There is no shortage of cylinders, but liquid oxygen is scarce. I had placed an order with suppliers last Thursday and I have enough oxygen to supply for the next two days. What after that? Usually we get six tonnes of medical liquid oxygen and the supplier has reduced the quota to 5 tonnes. The demand too has increased. Hospitals that were asking for two cylinders are now asking for four,” he said. 

Liquid Medical Oxygen (LMO) Storage Tank at K.R. Hospital that has the capacity of 13 KL (Kilo Litre).

Supply to remote areas too

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Govinda Nayak manages Mangala Ravi Enterprises founded by Srinivas Tantri in 1982. “We have completely stopped industrial supply of oxygen in Mysuru and are focussing only on medical oxygen supplies. We also supply oxygen to remote places like Kodagu and we send 7,000-litre cylinders in batches to Kodagu based on demand,” Nayak said. 

“Mysuru city needs six tonnes of oxygen per week especially now with more number of COVID positive cases pouring in. With one tonne oxygen, 600 small cylinders and 300 large cylinders could be filled up, he noted. Nayak said there were several oxygen supply companies like Padaki Gas suppliers, Southern Gas and Peenya Gas Company and they too were facing scarcity due to short supply. 

Dr. Nanjundaswamy, Resident Medical Officer, Mysore Medical College and Research Institute (MMC&RI) said they have got 13 KL (Kilo Litre) capacity jumbo tank with which they are managing the situation. There are 80 oxygenated beds in K.R. Hospital. “We might fall short in case more patients with low saturation levels and co-morbidities pouring in. So far, we are not facing shortage of oxygen. But it looks like we will face a crisis in case patients increase, he added.

There is a Liquid Medical Oxygen (LMO) Storage Tank at K.R. Hospital that has the capacity of 13 KL. The unit was installed last year and is located behind the Stone Building. The advantage of LMO is that its total capacity is 13 KL but can be filled up to 10 KL as it will get expanded by 3 KL later.

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The liquid oxygen is manufactured in a few factories at Ballari and Bengaluru from where the oxygen carrying trucks will come and refill the LMO Tank on a regular basis.

War room for medical oxygen supply

Karnataka Government has set up a war room to ensure supply of medical oxygen to hospitals. Health Minister Dr. K. Sudhakar said, “A dedicated war room has been set up at the Office of the State Drug Controller in Bengaluru to facilitate availability of oxygen in both State-run and private hospitals.”

“We will supply jumbo cylinders to private hospitals, which do not have oxygen tanks, from State-run hospitals to overcome the shortage,” said Dr. Sudhakar. In the four bottling plants in Karnataka, about 800 tonnes of medical oxygen is produced. However, with more patients reporting to hospitals with low saturation of oxygen, the demand exceeded the supply in spite of the Centre rushing 300 tonnes of oxygen to the State recently. The Health Minister said that they have urged the Centre to send 7,500 jumbo oxygen cylinders to meet the demand of the soaring cases in the State.

“There are seven medical oxygen production plants in Karnataka with a daily production capacity of 812 tonnes, while the medical oxygen utilised on Saturday was about 272.61 tonnes. So, I appeal everyone not to create unnecessary panic about shortage of medical oxygen in the State,” the Minister tweeted.

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