The Centre on Friday urged states and Union Territories to ensure that there is no restriction imposed on inter-state movement of medical oxygen.

In a statement, the Union Health Ministry said that the availability of adequate and uninterrupted supply of medical oxygen is important in view of handling moderate and severe cases of the coronavirus. Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said that some state governments were trying to curb the free inter-state movement of medical oxygen using various acts and were asking suppliers to only provide oxygen to the concerned states’ hospital and medical institutions, the statement said.

“It has been again brought to their [states and Union Territories] notice that medical oxygen constitutes an Essential Public Health Commodity and any impediment in the supplies of medical oxygen in the country may critically impact the management of patients suffering from Covid-19 disease in other parts of the country,” the statement said. “Moreover, some of the major oxygen manufacturers/supplies already have existing supply agreements with hospitals in various states with a legal obligation to fulfil such agreements.”

The ministry said that an adequate supply of oxygen, in addition to other measures, has allowed for taking effective care of patients suffering from moderate and severe coronavirus infection. “The adopted host of strategies have actively resulted in rising recovery rate and steadily declining case fatality rate [1.67% currently],” the statement said. “As on date, less than 3.7% of active patients are on oxygen support.”

It added that the coronavirus management strategy was based on the Standard of Care Treatment Guidelines, which ensures that a “uniform and standardised quality” of medical care is provided across all the coronavirus-related medical facilities in the country. “For moderate and severe cases, adequate oxygen support, appropriate and timely administration of anti-coagulants and widely available and inexpensive corticosteroids, in accordance with the protocol, can be considered to be the mainstay of Covid-19 therapy,” the ministry said.

India on Friday reported a record increase of 96,550 new coronavirus cases, taking its tally to 45,62,414. The country’s toll rose by 1,209 to 76,271. As many as 35,42,663 people have recovered from the infection. India’s recovery rate is currently 77.65%, while the mortality rate is 1.67%.