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New Delhi, April 8, 2020
The Centre has asked all States to pay special attention to maintaining the supply of medical oxygen smooth and hassle-free in view of the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.
Union Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla has written to all State Chief Secretaries in this regard stressing the critical need to maintain adequate availability of medical oxygen in the country.
Medical oxygen is also included in the national list and WHO's list of essential medicines.
The Ministry had issued consolidated guidelines on the lockdown measures to be taken by the Central Ministries, Departments, State and Union Territory Governments for containment of the COVID-19 epidemic in the country on March 24 and further modified on March 25-26, April 2 and 3.
Within the consolidated guidelines, manufacturing units of medical devices, raw materials and intermediates; manufacturing units of their packaging material; transportation of essential goods and medical supplies and mobilization of resources, workers and material for augmentation and expansion of the hospital infrastructure have been permitted.
Further, in the communication to all States on April 3, detailed guidelines have been issued for smooth functioning of supply chain of exempted items, involving the inter-state movement of employees.
In view of the above, the Home Secretary has reiterated and clarified that the exceptions under various clauses of the consolidated guidelines on lockdown measures include the following:
All manufacturing units of Medical Oxygen Gas/Liquid, Medical Oxygen Cylinders, Cryogenic Tanks for storing liquid Oxygen, Liquid cryogenic Cylinders, Liquid Oxygen Cryogenic Transport Tanks, Ambient vaporisers & Cryogenic valves, cylinder valves & accessories; Transportation of above items; Cross land border movement of above items;
Workers of above-mentioned manufacturing units and their transportation should be allowed and given passes to travel from their homes to factories and back to ensure factories are run on full installed capacity.
The communication emphasizes that social distancing and proper hygiene practices must be ensured in each of the above activities, as specified in the lockdown measures. It will be the responsibility of the head of the organization/establishment to ensure compliance of such norms.
The district authorities have been asked to ensure strict enforcement. Further, the communication stresses that the authorities and field agencies should be made aware of the above for strict compliance, especially with reference to the supply of medical oxygen.