As several states battle an acute oxygen crisis triggered by a surge in Covid cases, Assam Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Monday said his state had a surplus of the gas.
Addressing reporters at the Gauhati Medical College and Hospital, Mr Sarma said the state produces 61 metric tonnes per day against a current requirement of 20.
“Assam has eight fully functional oxygen manufacturing units functioning at full capacity and each produces over five MT of oxygen per day,” he said.
The minister said Assam also had three MT per day coming from a facility in Bongaigaon district, and a similar amount from a plant in neighbouring Nagaland that was not previously considered.
Mr Sarma said a further 50 MT would be sourced from Bhutan; a royal decree to this effect has been passed.
In terms of transport capacity, Assam has 30 tankers that can store a minimum of 460 MT.
“With this Assam will be self-sufficient on the oxygen front, unless several thousands of patients get admitted,” he said, noting that the state fewer than 17,000 active cases at this point.
Nevertheless, efforts to increase the state’s oxygen reserves are critical given the crippling shortage that has affected other states; hospitals and relatives of patients in Delhi – both Covid and non-Covid have been struggling to find oxygen supplies.
Mr Sarma said Guwahati, the state’s largest city and where the most cases have been reported, has 150 ICU beds. Numbers of beds in medical colleges in Silchar and Jorhat are also being increased.
On the subject of Remdesivir, an “experimental investigational drug” sometimes used to treat COVID-19, Mr Sarma said Assam has a stock of 12,000 vials, and could be purchased from the government for Rs 1,568 per dose.
The state reported 3,137 new Covid cases and 15 deaths in a 24-hour period ending Monday night.