MORE VALUABLE THAN GOLD A worker refills oxygen tanks at a refill station in Quezon City on Tuesday, August 10, 2021. The country has been asked to stock up on oxygen as Covid cases are increasing due to the Delta variant. PHOTO BY RUY L. MARTINEZ
President Rodrigo Duterte is considering speaking to Congress about a tax break for medical-grade oxygen manufacturers as the government prepares for a possible surge in demand amid an increase in Covid-19 cases.
In his taped public address broadcast Monday night, Duterte said the country’s hospitals should prepare supplemental oxygen as it is a “vital component” in the fight against Covid-19.
“If it really gets out of hand, we’re all going to need the oxygen they can produce for the people (for the people). We really need them. Your first … oxygen. This is how it works now, license it if it’s right. If it’s all right, give it right away (We really need it. We were oxygen starved during the first wave that hit us. So those who produce it, give them a license when it hits us again . If everything is in order, give it to the manufacturers immediately, “added the President.
“Maybe I’ll talk to Congress, bigyan kayo ng tax break diyan sa ginagawa ninyo (to give you tax breaks for what you do) because you are producing a very important component in the fight against Covid-19 and the Delta variant.” he said.
A World Health Organization official had previously urged the Philippines to increase its oxygen supply in the face of the threat posed by the Delta variant.
During a meeting with the President, the General Director of the Food and Drug Administration Eric Domingo said there were 81 licensed manufacturers of medical oxygen in the country.
Of the number, 30 were approved in the past month alone as the agency prepares for an expected increase in hospitalization rates.
“So far we are not seeing a shortage in our oxygen supply (we are not seeing a shortage in our oxygen supply yet),” added Domingo.
Meanwhile, Commerce Minister Ramon Lopez assured the public that the local supply of oxygen was “three times” than current needs.
“The current industrial capacity is about three times the current demand. There is a surplus on the manufacturing side,” said Lopez.
“The current excess capacity includes both medical and industrial oxygen capacity[ies], and the latter can also be used to make medical oxygen if needed, “he added.
The Philippines have reverted to a “high risk” rating for Covid-19 due to an increase in cases.
8,900 new Covid-19 cases were registered on Monday after registering 10,623 on August 6 and 11,021 on August 7.
Health experts fear that the increase in the number of cases was caused by the spread of the Delta variant, which has also led to a high number of Covid-19 cases in children.
The Delta variant was first discovered in India and is the driver of similar climbs in Indonesia, Thailand and other Southeast Asian countries.
There are already 450 cases of the Delta variant in the Philippines.
The Ministry of Health announced that the variant had been detected in all 17 cities and towns in the National Capital Region (Metro Manila).
As of August 6, a total of nine deaths from the Delta variant had been recorded.