Oxygen shortage to be eased this week, says Chang

MONTEGO BAY, St James — Deputy Prime Minister Dr Horace Chang says hospitals currently facing a shortage of medical oxygen are expected to get relief later this week.

The shortage has been exacerbated by the overwhelming pressure being placed on hospitals by critically ill COVID-19 patients.

Dr Chang told the Jamaica Observer yesterday, shortly after having a dialogue with IGL Ltd — the sole supplier of medical gas to the nation’s hospitals — that the scarcity stemmed from a shortage of cylinders.

He said the company has since ordered cylinders from overseas which have arrived and were cleared over the weekend.

“They did get a supply over the weekend which they were allowed to clear immediately. So they should have cylinders coming out this week to the hospitals,” stated Dr Chang. “We hope we don’t need it all but they [IGL] hope to get the rest in another three weeks.”

He said the challenge that the company faced was due to a delayed shipment of the cylinders from the Far East because of the pandemic.

“They had ordered from early last year when they heard the disease was spreading and their order got delayed,” Chang said.

The deputy prime minister, who was addressing reporters after he took his COVID-19 jab at St James’ type 5 clinic in Montego Bay Bay, also assured the public that despite the challenges faced by the company, its production capabilities are intact.

“They have not had this demand on cylinders for a very long time, but the company is functioning well,” he said.

Western Regional Health Authority director Errol Greene confirmed that shortly after IGL received the new cylinders from overseas it delivered 100 to the region Sunday night and the same amount yesterday morning.

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