Will import oxygen from Bhutan, no need for lockdown: Himanta Biswa Sarma

Assam government has made arrangements for import of medical-use oxygen from neighbouring Bhutan as the seccond wave of COVID-19 pandemic has hit the region.

Health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on April 25 said that Bhutan has installed an oxygen plant near the Bhutan-India border and the Assam government has made arrangements to procure oxygen from the plant.

Speaking to reporters, Sarma said there will be no shortage of Remdesivir as he requested drug manufacturer Sun Pharma to expedite the production at its Palasbari plant to 80,000 vials per week.

“Regarding oxygen, we have moved ahead. There is a new plant being set up in Bhutan. Today, we have made arrangements to procure oxygen from there,” he said.

Sarma further said that the Assam government was not aware of an oxygen plant in Dimapur in Nagaland, and now it will sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the neighbouring state for procurement.

“The oxygen level that we are able to manage, I think there will not be any problem until several thousand patients arrive at the hospitals,” he added.

The health minister visited Sun Pharma’s Palasbari plant near Guwahati during the day.

“We have good news. We were searching for Remdesivir across the world. I did not know that Remdesivir was being manufactured in Assam. When I visited the Sun Pharma plant at Palasbari this morning, I came to know that 80,000 Remdesivirs can be produced every week in Assam,” he added.

He requested the company to scale up the production to ensure that there is no shortage in the state.

“ICU beds have also been ramped up. I believe we will be able to manage the COVID-19 crisis very fast like last year,” Sarma said.

When asked about the possibility of lockdown in Assam, he said there is no necessity for any such drastic step at this moment.

“When do we announce a lockdown? It is done when there is no oxygen, injection, medicine, kit in hospitals, then we get temporary relief by implementing lockdown. There is a lockdown in Delhi because the Delhi CM himself said there is no oxygen. But, everything is there in Assam as of now. So, there is no need for thinking about a lockdown. The way we are managing the things, I think the chance of lockdown in Assam is extremely rare,” the minister said.

The total closure of educational institutions in the state will be decided after May 2, he said.

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