The Union health ministry on Friday said that states were asked to conduct oxygen consumption audits and ensure the “rational use” of the gas, ANI reported.

During a briefing on Friday evening, the ministry said that state governments have been advised to make sure there was no “unnecessary oxygen administration” to patients who may not require it. The ministry also advised to monitor private health facilities which include oxygen cylinders as part of Covid-19 home-based care packages.

The Centre’s comment came as shortage of oxygen continued to affect coronavirus patients in several parts of the country. However, earlier on Friday the Centre told the Supreme Court that there was no oxygen shortage in the country and that 10,000 metric tonnes of the gas was available. During the briefing, the health ministry said that 8,593 metric tonnes of oxygen has been allocated to 23 states. It added that the Centre’s decision to prohibit industrial use of oxygen from April 22 will result in an increase of additional 1,000 metric tonnes of oxygen.

A total of 162 Pressure Swing Adsorption oxygen plants have been sanctioned in the country, of which 52 have already been installed, the ministry said. On April 18, it had said that 33 such plants have been installed.

The health ministry also expressed concern about the fact that many states were witnessing much higher peaks of coronavirus cases than reported earlier. It said that that the peak in Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh in the second wave of the pandemic was five times higher, as compared to the first wave. Similarly, the peak was higher by 4.5 times in Chhattisgarh and 3.3 times in Delhi.

Other states like Karnataka, Kerala, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Goa and Odisha were showing high case growth trajectory besides witnessing higher peaks, the ministry said.

India on Friday registered 3,86,452 coronavirus cases, pushing the overall count of infections to 1,87,62,976 since the pandemic first broke out in India in January 2020. This is the highest ever single-day rise in cases reported by any country so far, and the ninth consecutive day when India has recorded more than 3 lakh cases. With 3,498 deaths, the toll climbed to 2,08,330.

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