Medical Oxygen Demand All-Time High

Deputy Controller for COVID-19 pandemic said this week that the demand for oxygen in health facilities is in all-time high.

The consumption of medical oxygen in hospitals in the country has risen high since the rise of COVID-19 cases in the country, especially in the high risk provinces including the National Capital District.

Health authorities are now calling on everyone to adhere to the non-pharmaceutical measures to help prevent further spread of the virus as oxygen demand is expected to increase. 

The non-pharmaceutical measures include avoiding  crowds, physical distancing by 1.5 to 2 metres, wearing of masks in public places such as markets and shops, following hygiene measures such as washing of hands with soap often or using sanitizers, and coughing into bent elbow rather than into the hands. 

“Oxygen is the main medical therapy for COVID-19 patients. Moderate, severe and critical patients require high oxygen levels at 10-15L/min,’’ said National Control Centre clinical lead Dr Scotty Kandelyo. Dr Kandelyo is also the Deputy Chief Emergency Physician for Highlands and Momase Region.

Dr Kandelyo added, “A single moderate COVID-19 patient consumes oxygen in two large size cylinders (G size- 7600L x2) in 24 hours and a severe or critical patient consumes oxygen in three G size cylinders (G size-7600Lx3) in 24 hours.’’ 

He said the oxygen consumption has increased by more than 100 per cent in the surge provinces.

“Supplying of oxygen is currently struggling but keeping up with demand, however if there are more cases we might run short with oxygen supply. Therefore, non-pharmaceutical measures are important,’’ said Dr Kandelyo.

Dr Kandelyo said that BOC Gas, the company that is supplying the oxygen has reported that it has increased its oxygen supply by 75 per cent, but the logistics of supplying oxygen to the hospitals are also very challenging.  Therefore he appealed to the health facilities to be proactive in assessing their oxygen capacity and to request for resupply before their buffer supply is depleted. 

Recently, more than 400 oxygen concentrators have been distributed to each province; about 18 per province on average. It is then used by those with mild and moderate cases.

In order to ease the demand in the regions, the National pandemic task force planned to build Pressure Swing Absorption Oxygen Plants in NCD, Kokopo in East New Britain, Lae and Mt Hagen. One in NCD is already established at the Port Moresby General Hospital. 

The Deputy Controller for the National Pandemic Response Dr Daoni Esorom has cautioned that, if we get surges in all the provinces we will put a lot of strain on the already high demand for oxygen because oxygen is also required for other medical conditions and sections of the hospital. 

“Oxygen is required in the Emergency, Theatre, Intensive Care Unit (ICU), Paediatric ICU and Outpatient. CEOs of PHAs must order their oxygen requirements accurately to prevent out of stock,’’ said Dr Daoni.

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