Kerala Readies Oxygen Buffer Zones, War Rooms As Covid Cases Spike

By SM .06 May, 2021




THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Each Kerala district is gearing up with "oxygen buffer zones" to combat a surge in Oxygen demand amid a rise in Covid cases. In capital Thiruvananthapuram, Tehsildars - revenue officials - over the last 4 days have attached over 300 industrial oxygen cylinders. They are being converted into medical oxygen cylinders for emergency use.


The oxygen war rooms, being set up in each district, will play a crucial role in "oxygen-audit" and ensuring priority distribution.


Kerala has augmented the capacity of oxygen availability to 220 metric tonnes over the last one year, but in just a matter of few weeks, the daily medical oxygen demand has more than doubled, from 73 MT to 150 MT, according to officials.


The urgency is because Kerala"s two-week cases have tripled to 4.5 lakh. The lockdown announced from May 8 to 16 aims to cut the transmission chain and keep the cases below the surge capacity.


Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for 1,000 tonnes of liquid medical oxygen.


Significantly, the state has not stopped its private oxygen producers from sending oxygen supplies to nearby, needy states.


"We are starting a lockdown from the day after tomorrow. If we project the possible oxygen need for next week, we may reach around 200 MT. We expect it to plateau at that," Dr Asheel, Executive Director for Kerala Social Security Mission, and a key officer involved in the core team, said.


When asked what happens if the cases don"t come down, Dr Asheel said, "That"s exactly why we have asked for more oxygen. The oxygen situation is being reviewed daily by the Chief Minister."