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Over 1,400 tonnes of oxygen needed for Karnataka in May: Sudhakar

The Health Minister said an order would be issued today for private hospitals to increase their bed share from 50% to 80% for COVID-19 patients.

As the demand for oxygen is seeing a steady rise in the State, Health Minister K. Sudhakar, on April 24, said Karnataka would require over 1,400 tonnes of oxygen beginning May 1.

Pointing to the severity of the second wave, he said the new variants were posing a challenge to the medical fraternity. In this wave, propelled by what is being dubbed as the Indian variant, the demand for oxygen is far higher than in the first, he said.

“Even during the peak last year, we had used around 300 to 350 tonnes of oxygen. In the second wave, we have already used up 500 tonnes. It is estimated that we will require 1414 tonnes from May 1, which the Chief Minister has conveyed in yesterday’s meeting with the Prime Minister,” he said, speaking to reporters as the weekend lockdown kicked in in the State.

“The Spanish flu lasted two years and was four to six times more deadly. In the COVID second wave, the fatality rate is 0.4 to 0.5%. The new set of restrictions are aimed at breaking the chain,” he said.

Referring to the sudden spike in the number of people developing breathing problems and requiring oxygen and hospitalisation this time, he said this was not the case during the first wave.

“The virus is constantly undergoing mutations. (sic.) In Bengaluru, we have already announced 2,000 ICU beds and ventilators in makeshift hospitals in the premises of tertiary hospitals. In Mysuru, Hubballi, Bidar, Belagavi and Shivamogga, modular ICUs with 200-250 bed capacity in makeshift hospitals will be set up and directions have been given yesterday.”

“All of these will be started within 15 days. We are aware that due to the demand everywhere, ventilators and other necessary equipments may have to be imported and all efforts are being taken for it,” Dr. Sudhakar said.

He acknowledged that shortage of ICU beds was most acute, and added that an order for private hospitals to increase their bed share from 50% to 80% would be issued today. “If you don’t have any symptoms, please do not occupy hospital beds. It’s injustice to those who really need it.”

“Those with mild symptoms or those who are asymptomatic cannot be admitted in hospitals. If any hospital — government or private — are found to be violating this, for whatever reason — be it because someone has come through influence or otherwise, action will be taken against them,” he warned.

He urged the media to focus on the number of recoveries too to build confidence among people. “There are people who have recovered without treatment. There is 86.43% recovery rate. Till today, 10.46 lakh have completely recovered,” he added.

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