HCMC risks lack of oxygen for Covid patients

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Covid-19 hospitals need at least 170 tons of liquid oxygen per day, but facilities in Ho Chi Minh City can supply just 150.

According to the city administration, now that production and business activities have gradually recovered, most local medical oxygen supply units and in neighboring provinces have switched to producing industrial oxygen, especially for steel plants, which normally use oxygen with fuel gases in gas welding, gas cutting, flame cleaning, flame hardening, and flame straightening, as well as in self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA).

There are now many units that have transferred either a part or 100 percent of their capacities to producing oxygen for industrial purposes, and HCMC currently has only five facilities that provide about 150 tons of liquid medical oxygen per day, the city officials said Thursday.

Meanwhile, the number of Covid-19 patients that need oxygen is rising.

Currently, Covid-19 treatment facilities have reported a demand of 170 tons per day, with the figure predicted to rise to 350 tons in the coming time, the city People’s Committee stated.

“With the current amount of medical oxygen remaining low (about 21 percent compared to the peak period of the ongoing outbreak), there is a high risk of oxygen deficiency for the healthcare sector in the near future,” it stressed.

In recent times, especially the period since early December, there have been situations in which hospitals have encountered difficulties in getting oxygen while suppliers have reported cases in which there is no oxygen reserve for emergency situations.

Therefore, the city has asked the government to assign the Ministry of Industry and Trade to reduce the oxygen volume supplied for industrial production, especially steel, in the next three months, to ensure the source of medical oxygen for Covid-19 treatment facilities.

So far in the ongoing wave that hit Vietnam in late April, HCMC, the former epicenter, has recorded almost 498,000 cases and 19,441 deaths.

For a month now, it has reported a high number of Covid-19 fatalities, at around 60 per day on average.