Davao eyes building oxygen plant for Covid ‘mega’ surge


DAVAO CITY—The city government here plans to construct an oxygen plant to prepare for an expected “huge” demand for it once the Delta, or Indian, variant takes its dreaded mega-surge in the region.

City Hall’s Economic Enterprise unit was tasked to study the matter, and to estimate the total cost for building the plant and installing the necessary equipment to run it.

For the meantime, the city was monitoring the inventory of cylinder tanks available and the capacity of the oxygen suppliers to provide the items when needed during the surge, Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio told the city-run DCDR radio station.

She said oxygen supply in the city was among the things discussed in the latest regular meeting last week with private hospitals and the Department of Health (DOH). She said last week’s meeting was sought also by the DOH “to talk about the challenges of private hospitals, their compliance with the Covid-19 bed capacity requirement as mandated by law, and PhilHealth concerns.”

The mayor said, “Among things that we have discussed is the oxygen supply in case of a surge as it is needed in our hospitals. This is under FDA. The FDA is now making an inventory of the capacity of oxygen suppliers in Davao City.”

Both the DOH and the FDA were doing estimates of how many oxygen tanks would be needed in case of a surge.

“We currently have a list in the City Government of Davao of the number of tanks, as computed by DOH, that will be needed in our hospitals in case of a surge. DOH, I think, made an inventory and computed what’s lacking based on surge requirements,” she added.

She said the City Economic Enterprise Office would ask oxygen manufacturers if they could supply hospitals with the needed number of oxygen tanks.

“We are still in that stage of the discussion. We are looking for oxygen cylinder suppliers and we are also talking to ask for a cost estimate in building an oxygen plant. We do not know yet but we are looking into it. We already asked for an estimate of how much is needed for an oxygen plant,” Duterte-Carpio said.

The city recently turned over to the private hospitals the materials that the DOH had requested, including personal protective equipment and mechanical ventilators for four hospitals.

She said the anticipated Delta surge “is a bigger or higher surge than what the city has experienced in the past two surges as the Delta variant has higher transmissibility and can infect more individuals.”

While government has announced that the Delta variant is all over the country already, the city has logged only its fourth Delta case so far.  According to the August 5 report of the Whole Genome Sequencing of the University of the Philippines’s Philippine Genome Center, the latest case was that of a 37-year-old male who was swabbed on July 6 and was previously tagged as recovered on July 16, 2021.

The DOH has said that “no single strategy is enough to protect the people and our health-care system. Strict adherence to minimum public health standard coupled with vaccination against Covid-19 will further prevent the emergence of new variants.”

The city, meanwhile, said 402,158 Dabawenyos have taken their first dose of anti-Covid-19 vaccine as of August 8. The city has an estimated population of 1.7 million, and it has set a target of inoculating 1.1 million to achieve herd protection.

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