P23-M oxygen plant to rise in Davao City to plug shortage

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 13 September) – The City Government of Davao has set aside P23 million to establish an oxygen plant here amid reports of supply shortage due to a surge of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) infections supposedly driven by the highly contagious Delta variant, Mayor Sara Duterte said.

Duterte told Davao City Disaster Radio (DCDR 87.5) on Monday that of the amount, P11 million will be used for the construction of the warehouse while P12 million will be for the procurement of 1,000 units of tanks with regulators.

She said the budget would be taken from the city’s disaster funds.

She said that the Davao City COVID-19 Task Force has been asked to pass a resolution requesting the city government for the emergency purchase of the equipment to allow a speedy process to build the oxygen plant.

Duterte refused to give a timeline for the completion of the plant since, according to her, “procedural requirements of government procurement usually take time.”

In reality, the government’s procurement will take a while. You can see, based on our journey in COVID-19 response, our crematorium took us almost a year and our (COVID-19 testing) laboratory took almost 13 months (to complete)… Knowing the procurement process and delays, by our experience in the government, I don’t want to give a target because I don’t want to keep extending it when the target date comes, and it’s still not there yet,” she said.

Dr. Ricardo Audan, hospital chief of the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC), said in a phone interview on Monday that they have just operationalized the hyperbaric oxygen plant, on top of the two existing plants, to increase its supply of oxygen.

The three plants have a total of eight oxygen generators. Of the eight, two generators are currently being fixed, according to Audan.

He added that the six generators can produce 903 tanks daily, short of 280 tanks of its daily demand of 1,183.

He said the SPMC needs to outsource additional 470 tanks from three local manufacturers daily to ensure stable supply.

Duterte said they are finding a way to hasten the procurement to address the demand for oxygen.

She said the planned oxygen plant would rise near the city government-run abattoir in Barangay Ma-a.

She said the Department of Health-Davao (DOH-Davao), SPMC, City Government of Davao, Philippine Health Insurance Company, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and private hospitals regularly meet to know the status of oxygen supply in the city.

Citing the FDA, Duterte said that an individual is now required to present a doctor’s prescription to buy an oxygen tank.

“This is not a joke. There’s no conspiracy. We don’t conspire with patients queuing there at our hospitals who need oxygen. What advice I can give to you, get vaccinated (against COVID-19),” Duterte said.

As of Sunday, DOH-Davao reported 934 new cases, bringing the total cases to 79,907 with 18,425 active, 59,059 recoveries and 2,423 deaths.

Of the total cases, Davao City, the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic in Mindanao, logged 43,039 cases with 8,700 active, 33,027 recoveries and 1,312 deaths.

Davao de Oro tallied 5,289 cases, Davao del Norte with 14,195, Davao del Sur with 8,581, Davao Occidental with 2,472 and Davao Oriental with 6,331.

The DOH-Davao reported that of the 10 additional Delta variant cases discovered on September 6, three came from Davao City, five from Tagum City, one from Pantukan in Davao de Oro, and one from Mati in Davao Oriental.

To date, the region logged a total of 58 Delta cases, 135 Alpha cases and 297 Beta cases. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)