$300M to be spent to buy oxygen for COVID-19 patients

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Some $300M will be utilised to purchase oxygen for COVID-19 patients at the Infectious Diseases Hospital, Liliendaal.

This is part of the supplementary sum of $3,352, 229,664 approved in the National Assembly on Thursday for the provision of medical supplies for COVID-19.

During Friday’s COVID-19 update, Minister of Health, Dr. Frank Anthony MP explained that it costs $1 GY per litre of oxygen and every minute, a patient in the COVID-19 hospital requires 15 or sometimes 30 litres of oxygen.

“You can do the math, and you’ll see how much that is costing us. In some instances, we need to give patients as much as 30 liters per minute. So, on a daily basis, we are spending a lot of money. And some of these patients in the ICU would be there for a minimum of 10 to 15 days.

So, it is costing the taxpayers of this country a lot of money when persons are in the ICU.”
He disclosed that logistical issues are affecting the establishment of an oxygen plant at Ocean View.

“The big problem that we have is the transportation of the plant because as you can imagine, it’s a big thing and we can only get that by ship. The challenge that we’re having is to get transportation to move it from India to Guyana…we are still hopeful that maybe by early next year, we will get that plant.”

Once established, Minister Anthony said that it would drastically reduce the cost government pays for oxygen since it would be manufactured on site at the hospital.

The oxygen plant was donated to Guyana by a UK organisation, which was approached by the Guyanese chapter of Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh.

The plant has the capacity to produce about 800 litres of oxygen per minute.

In addition to purchasing oxygen, monies will be used to boost the capacity of the National Reference Laboratory

“We are spending $1.3 billion on consumables for the national reference lab. And basically, this is providing for the reagents and all the other pipettes and all the other things that are necessary for us to do PCR testing at the national reference lab. It looks like a lot of money, but consider that a PCR test is approximately $16,000 in the private sector. So, this would allow us to do probably about 400,000 PCR tests.

We also have another provision here for about $73 million that we are buying other laboratory supplies that we need to make sure that our labs are run very effectively.” Some 17 ventilators will also be procured which will be distributed across the regions.

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