Bangladesh has announced that the country’s oxygen supplies should only be provided to hospitals and clinics as a precautionary measure due to an overall increase in Covid-19 infections across the country, according to the Department of Explosives.
Monira Yesmine, an official from the department, told CNN that the government had sent a notice to various oxygen companies on Friday requiring them to suspend oxygen supply for industrial use and provide it only to hospitals and clinics instead “due to increased cases of Covid-19 patients in the nation and fear of oxygen shortage.”
The move comes as hospitals in neighboring India have been plagued by oxygen shortages as cases continue to surge on the subcontinent.
India has taken a similar approach to commercial oxygen supply, with its government temporarily banning the supply of oxygen for industrial use from April 22.
Dr. Supriyo Sarker, Program Manager of Bangladesh's Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) told CNN that Bangladesh received its last oxygen supply shipment from India on April 21.
Sarker said that currently, the main challenges in the country's health system "are shortage of manpower, bed and ICU capacity and the oxygen supply for Covid-19 patients.”
He noted however, that over the last few days, a drop in case numbers had been reported, and that oxygen was still in reserve.
"If the infection doesn’t increase any further, we won’t face a big problem," he said, underscoring the government's precautionary stance.
The country’s Health Minister Zahid Maleque said the country is unlikely to face a crisis of medical oxygen given the current number of coronavirus patients receiving treatment in hospitals.
On vaccines, Bangladesh is currently seeking more doses amid a current shortage after the Indian government’s decision to halt its exports of the AstraZeneca vaccine in the midst of its own crisis dealt a blow to the country's rollout plans.
Bangladesh recorded 3,031 additional daily cases on Tuesday, according to the DGHS, raising the national confirmed cases to 751,659.
The country's death toll stood at 11,228 on Tuesday.