Eastern Times Correspondent, Dhaka, 26 July: Oxygen Express, a special train service set up by the Indian Railways, has embarked on its journey to Bangladesh with 200 tons of liquid medical oxygen.
In a historic moment for the two neighbouring countries, this is the first time that the service is being provided outside India.
An indent was placed on Saturday at Tata to transport 200 tons of oxygen to Benapole in Bangladesh, according to a media statement by the Indian railways ministry.
With 10 containers, the train left Tatanagar, Jharkhand on Saturday and is expected to reach Benapole on Sunday.
Oxygen Expresses were introduced during the peak of the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in India when many states were grappling with shortage of oxygen supply. Some 480 trains have transported more than 35,000 tons of medical oxygen to 15 states since the service started its operations on April 24 this year.
Earlier on Wednesday, Bangladesh received 180 tons of liquefied medical oxygen from India carried by 11 tankers on an emergency basis.
Amid the upsurge of Covid-19 cases and deaths in Bangladesh, triggered by the Delta variant of the novel coronavirus, experts have warned that the rising trend of hospitalizations could lead to a crisis of medical oxygen.
However, health directorate chief ABM Khurshid Alam on Friday assured that Bangladesh still has enough oxygen supply and is also procuring oxygen from India.
Government hospitals in some 11 districts and upazila health complexes in at least five districts did not have central oxygen facilities as of July 21.
Sources at the hospital unit of the DGHS said the authorities had prioritized hospitals in Khulna due to the worsening Covid-19 situation in the division. The other priority hospitals are in Rajshahi and Rangpur.
The government is trying to ensure treatment for the patients in the less-affected districts with high-flow nasal cannulas, oxygen concentrators and cylinders, a DGHS spokesperson said.
It may be recalled that six people died allegedly due to an oxygen supply failure at Satkhira Medical College Hospital on June 30. They were undergoing treatment at the ICU and the CCU units of the hospital.