Argentina is cancelling all exports of oxygen to cope with growing domestic demand, Productive Development Minister Matías Kulfas announced Tuesday.
The demand for oxygen for medical use grew between 300 and 330 per cent in recent days, which triggered the alarms in the national government.
Kalfas held a meeting at Casa Rosada with Cabinet Chief Santiago Cafiero and Health Minister Carla Vizzotti, after which it was decided that the supply of oxygen to hospitals during the second wave of coronavirus should be prioritized over other uses, so “all the supply that was intended to supply the industrial sector” must now “supply the health sector, explained the minister.
In other words, all of the oxygen that is produced today in Argentina has as an absolute priority to supply hospitals, clinics and other health centres,” he insisted.
Argentina reported 25,495 new cases of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus on Tuesday, bringing the total number of positive cases to 2,905,172, while the death toll rose to 62,599, after 516 deaths were reported in the last 24 hours.
Argentina registered a daily record number of positives on April 16, with 29,472 infections, and a daily maximum of deaths last Friday, with 557 deaths.
Also at the meeting were executives from oxygen supplier companies, who heard Vizzotti: “Right now, the demand is between two or three times more than it was at the time of highest consumption last year. This situation is generated by the greater number of hospitalizations, mainly in AMBA (Buenos Aires Metropolitan Area), and by the greater requirement of this type of therapy.” She added that “faced with this scenario, we have decided to work very hard to optimize the use of oxygen. We also seek to maximize production, facilitate imports and speed up distribution.”
Kalfas announced the creation of a work table with oxygen-producing companies. We have been able to survey the productive capacities and generate a work scheme that consists of structuring good planning to ensure the demands of the different health sectors and that they can be adequately supplied, because all the oxygen produced in Argentina today has the sole and exclusive priority of supplying the health sector.
Asked if this meant cancelling exports, Kulfas did not hesitate: “Yes, indeed. The export of this product will be prevented for the duration of the emergency. We have a significant increase in cases that require a greater supply of oxygen.”
Buenos Aires Province Deputy Health Minister Nicolás Kreplak warned that in the last 10 days the demand for oxygen in all health centres in the province had tripled. The tubes that were previously filled once a week are now filled every two days.
But according to a press report, the main problem with oxygen is “distribution, not production.”