Indian Railways is planning to transport liquid medical oxygen and oxygen cylinders across key corridors, to tide over the crisis arising from the shortage of medical oxygen to treat covid-19 patients amid rising cases.
Accordingly, a corridor is being created for the fast movement of the oxygen express trains. “After completion of technical trials, empty tankers would be moved from Kalamboli and Boisar railway stations in and near Mumbai, and sent to Vizag, Jamshedpur, Rourkela and Bokaro for loading of liquid medical oxygen tankers,” the railway ministry said in a statement on Sunday.
With a severe covid-19 second wave, India’s creaking healthcare system has been caught off guard yet again, with reports of acute shortages of oxygen, vaccines, testing kits, hospital beds and intensive care unit beds.
“It may be noted that the Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra state governments had approached ministry of railways to explore whether liquid medical oxygen (LMO) tankers could be moved by railways,” the statement said. “Railways immediately explored the technical feasibility of transportation of LMO. LMO has to be transported through roll-on-roll-off (RORO) service with road tankers placed on flat wagons,” it added.
Maharashtra has reported the highest daily cases of 67,123, followed by Uttar Pradesh (27,334) and Delhi (24,375).
According to the ministry of health and family welfare, 1,501 people have died of covid in the last 24 hours, with 10 states accounting for 82.94% of the deaths. With 419 deaths, Maharashtra leads the fatalities, followed by Delhi with 167 deaths.
As parts of the country reimpose lockdowns, superspreader events such as political rallies and the Kumbh Mela threaten to spread covid infections to India’s villages, where testing and treatment facilities are nearly non-existent, as attendees return home. Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday morning urged that the Kumbh Mela “should now only be symbolic” amid a surge in covid-19 cases.
A total of 261,500 new cases were registered in the last 24 hours, with Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan reporting 78.56% of the new cases. In a worrying trend, the daily positivity rate in the last 12 days has also doubled from 8% to 16.69%, with India’s total active caseload reaching 1.8 million cases.