Guwahati: Assam currently has a surplus of over 40 MT of oxygen even with the rise in the number of COVID-19 positive cases, and it is unlikely that there will be any shortage for the next ten days, Minister for Health and Family Welfare Himanta Biswa Sarma said on Monday.

The daily oxygen production capacity of the state has increased to 61 MT tonnes as against consumption of 20 MT per day, the minister said at a press conference here.

The state is at present receiving 50 MT of the life- saving gas per day from two sources–Meghalaya and Premier Oxygen, an oxygen manufacturing unit.

Besides the two sources, there are eight small oxygen plants in medical colleges of the state, he said.

A memorandum of understanding will be signed with two more sources at Dimapur and Bongaigaon on Tuesday for an additional supply of three metric tonnes of oxygen from each, he said.

An oxygen plant in Bhutan’s Samdrupjhonkar will supply 50 MT of the gas and there are plans to revive another plant at Digboi which was lying defunct for the last ten years, Sarma said.

The state has also expanded its oxygen storage capacity to 468 MT and 30 tankers for transportation.

“There are very few states that can match this capacity and I want to assure the people of the state that we are comfortable with the available oxygen supply for the next ten days,” the minister added.

Referring to the availability of Remdevisir, an anti- viral drug for treating COVID-19, in the state, Sarma said that its stock has increased to 25,000 doses with the arrival of 12,000 more vials on Monday.

“We have decided to open an Emergency store at Gauhati Medical College Hospital (GMCH) with 1,000 vials to be given to people from the state, residing in other parts of the country, who are unable to procure it there,” he said.

The store will also keep 2,500 doses for private nursing homes which will be made available to patients at the procurement price plus GST which comes to around Rs 1,568, the minister said.

There will be 22,000 doses available for patients in the medical college hospitals which “will hopefully last till April 30”, Sarma said.

“We will continue to make arrangements for further supply of Remdevisir, he added.

In the last ten days, 200 more ICU beds have been added and efforts are on to increase the number of ICU beds in hospitals, Sarma said.

“We are in a comfortable position regarding beds in COVID-19 hospitals and ICU facilities, medicines, and oxygen availability for the next ten days.

“The number of COVID-19 positive cases in the state has increased in the last ten days but we are also ramping up the health infrastructure to deal with it,” the minister said.

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