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NEW DELHI : The central government on Wednesday asked states to conduct mock drills at all oxygen plants to ensure they are fully operational, as more cases of the Omicron variant of coronavirus are reported in the country.

This is to ensure that oxygen with the required quantity, pressure and purity reaches patients at their bedside, the Union health ministry said. Pressure swing adsorption (PSA) plants are used to produce medical grade oxygen, which was in short supply when the second wave of covid-19 swept across India during April and May.

At a videoconference to review the status and preparedness of oxygen plants, concentrators and medical gas pipeliness, Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan requested states and Union territories to complete pending oxygen audit reports and submit them through a designated portal for live-tracking and monitoring. The drill has to be completed by the end of the month.

The health ministry is conducting comprehensive training programmes to build and enhance capacities of technicians and clinicians for operation and maintenance of the oxygen plants and related infrastructure. States which are yet to complete the scheduled training programmes were urged to expedite them and complete the pending ones by December end, in coordination with the District Skill development Councils, the health ministry said.

Pointing out that the Union government has assisted states and Union territories through providing equipment, technical and financial support for PSA plants, oxygen concentrators, ventilators, oxygen cylinders, liquid medical oxygen (LMO) plants and medical gas pipeline systems, the ministry urged them to review and monitor their status on a daily basis to ensure that the gap between the equipment and systems delivered to the districts and installed at the healthcare facilities is reduced to zero.

“While equipment and systems have been sanctioned and delivered, in many states, these have not been sent to the district healthcare facilities and when delivered, some have still not been made functional," the ministry said.

State nodal officers were requested to streamline coordination with Defence Res-earch and Development Organization (DRDO), HLL Infra Tech Services Ltd (HITES) and Central Medical Services Society (CMSS), etc., for resolution of electricity-related and site-related issues for ensuring quick operationalization of the entire medical oxygen supply infrastructure supplied to them.

As on date, 3,236 PSA plants have been installed in the country from various sources with a total commissioned oxygen capacity of 3783 MT. Moreover, 114,000 oxygen concentrators are being provided to states under PM CARES and covid-19 Emergency Response & Health System Preparedness Package-II, or ECRP-II.

At least 6,984 new covid cases were reported in the last 24 hours. India’s active caseload is 87,562. Active cases constitute 0.25% of the country’s total positive cases, which is lowest since March 2020, health ministry data showed. Meanwhile, the total tally of Omicron cases crossed 60 on Wednesday.

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