The Centre on Sunday directed state governments to ensure that use of liquid oxygen was not allowed for any non-medical purpose as supplies were needed for Covid-19 patients amid a severe shortage in India.

The home ministry asked manufacturing units to maximise their production and make it available to the government for medical use. The Centre modified its previous order that exempted nine categories of industries from diverting liquid oxygen for medical use. The home ministry has now said no exception will be given to any industry for use of liquid oxygen.

Also read:

How grave is India’s oxygen emergency? Worse than the government admits

The government has ramped up its efforts to get medical oxygen to hospitals using special “Oxygen Express” trains, Air Force planes and trucks to transport tankers as demand has outstripped supply across the country.

However, as reported based on government data available in the public domain, even if India uses its entire daily oxygen production for medical use, it still has a shortfall. The country is dipping into its reserves which could run out in a few weeks.

On Saturday, the Delhi High Court had warned that it would “hang” anyone who tried to obstruct the delivery of emergency oxygen supplies.

At least 20 coronavirus patients in Delhi died on Saturday after Jaipur Golden Hospital ran out of oxygen. A day earlier, 25 “sickest” coronavirus patients died overnight at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in Delhi amid a last-minute scramble for oxygen. The situation is worsening by the day with hospitals taking to social media to plead with the government to replenish their oxygen supplies and threatening to stop admissions of new patients.