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India is ordering oxygen tankers from abroad on a purchase or hiring basis, the Health Ministry said on Monday as the country is facing an acute shortage of oxygen supply amid a surge in Covid-19 cases.

"India has enough medical oxygen available, the challenge is to transport it to hospitals. Using real-time tracking, we are monitoring the movement of oxygen tankers," Additional Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs said today while addressing a press conference in Delhi.

The government has also directed hospitals for judicious use of oxygen and to plug leakage, if any, amid shortage faced by Covid-19 patients.

"Absolutely no need to panic for oxygen as we are trying to resolve issue of its transportation," MHA Additional Secy Piyush Goyal said.

"Rational use of oxygen, appropriate prescription of drugs such as Remdesivir, Tocilizumab critical in the fight against the pandemic," the government said.

'Social distancing is key, mask reduces risks'

Speaking about the second wave of Covid-19 in India, the Health Ministry said that cases are surging since February. "Social distancing is key, masks and sanitizers reduce risks," it added.

"Research has shown if no physical distancing measures are followed, one person can infect 406 people in 30 days," the Centre said.

"In this COVID19 situation, please don't go out unnecessarily, and even within the family wear a mask. It is very important to wear a mask. Do not invite people into your home. It's time people start wearing masks inside their homes," Dr VK Paul, Member-Health, Niti Aayog, said today.

He further added: "We cannot let the pace of COVID19 vaccination decline in the face of the emerging situation. In fact, vaccination should be escalated."

The health officials also said that many people are found to be occupying hospital beds out of panic. "Please take admission only on doctors' advice," the government urged to Covid-19 patients.

On the prevailing Covid-19 situation, AIIMS Director Dr Randeep Guleria said, "We have to reduce the number of cases and use hospital resources optimally. The judicious use of oxygen is very important. Right now, there is an unnecessary panic."

A few days after the government announced scaling up inoculation against Covid-19 by allowing all above 18 years of age to take their vaccines starting 1 May, several women have raised concerns over taking the jabs during menstruation. The government today clarified saying, "Women can take COVID-19 vaccine during menstruation."

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