Expanding oxygen supply but no shortage currently: Health Ministry
BY Buddhika SamaraweeraWith the considerable increase in the number of Covid-19 patients reported daily, the Ministry of Health is prepared to import oxygen (O2) if the stocks of oxygen in the country are not sufficient. The Health Ministry’s Communications Director, Public Health Services Deputy Director General and Disaster Preparedness and Response Division Head Dr. Hemantha Herath told The Morning that no patient can be allowed to die due to the lack of oxygen in the conditions and circumstances that may arise in the future. He said therefore that the Health Ministry would take immediate action to expand the oxygen stocks in the country, noting further that if the stocks of oxygen in the country are insufficient, action will be taken to import them. Commenting on the current oxygen requirement in the country, Dr. Herath said that efforts are being made to expand the oxygen supply, but emphasised that this does not mean that there is an oxygen shortage crisis. The Health Ministry has also stated that although the capacity of hospitals has not been exceeded yet in the face of the current Covid-19 pandemic, steps have been taken to increase hospital-based treatment and in order to cope with any future emergencies. Dr. Herath said that the hospital capacity has not yet been exceeded, adding however that steps have been taken to ensure adequate treatment facilities in case of an emergency situation. He also said that Covid-19 patients admitted to hospitals such as the National Hospital of Sri Lanka (NHSL) in Colombo would be referred to another treatment centre or hospital whenever possible. This is not due to the capacity of the said Hospital being exceeded but because it is not possible to reserve all the beds in any hospital solely for Covid-19 patients, he noted.Dr. Herath added that whenever there was an observed increase in the number of Covid-19 patients reported daily, the Health Ministry would take steps to increase the hospital capacity and relocate non critical patients to other locations. He also said: “There is no rule that every patient admitted to a hospital must be treated in the same hospital. Therefore, those who need intensive care will be directed to the relevant places and the situation will be managed accordingly.”According to him, at present, there are about 32,000 beds in 227 Covid-19 treatment centres islandwide, of which 25,000 are occupied.