India is in talks with manufacturers in the US, Indonesia and some European countries to import oxygen concentrators, senior officials in the government told Moneycontrol.
“We are in talks with manufacturing companies in India and in other countries,” a senior official in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said.
The country expects to receive supplies from about 15 countries, including Australia, China, Germany, Russia, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and the United States in the next few days to help tide over the current oxygen crisis at hospitals. Pharmaceuticals needed to treat Coronavirus will also be coming, the official said.
“We are in talks with the likes of BPL Medical Technologies and Philips India to increase their domestic production of oxygen concentrators and increase imports as well,” the official said.
The government has shifted its focus to import oxygen concentrators from other countries after China’s state-run Sichuan Airlines suspended all cargo flights to India for 15 days starting April 26.
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Air India, on April 26, brought 328 oxygen concentrators to India from the US. The concentrators brought by the national carrier were part of an order of 10,000 that the government had placed.
Last week, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said vital medical equipment, including hundreds of oxygen concentrators and ventilators, are on its way from the UK to India.
The move by Sichuan Airlines to stop all cargo flights to India is expected to cause major disruption to private traders' efforts to procure oxygen concentrators and other medical supplies from China.
The government has also granted full exemption from basic customs duty and health cess on import of medical-grade oxygen, oxygen concentrators, along with flow meters, regulators, connectors and tubing for three months.
The central government is also in talks with manufacturers to import other medical equipment from Vietnam and Japan in case the cargo ban from China persists, the official said.
The need for oxygen concentrators has risen in the past month as the second wave of COVID-19 sweeps the nation and various hospitals across the country continue to grapple with a severe shortage of medical oxygen even after receiving emergency supplies.
On Tuesday, India recorded the highest single-day COVID tally in the world with over 3.23 lakh cases. India's tally of COVID-19 cases has climbed to 1,76,36,307 while active cases have nearly reached the 29,00,000-mark.