MORE PRECIOUS THAN GOLD A worker fills oxygen tanks at a filling station in Quezon City on Tuesday, August 10, 2021. The country has been urged to stock up on oxygen as cases of Covid rise due to the Delta variant. PHOTO BY RUY L. MARTINEZ
President Rodrigo Duterte plans to discuss with Congress giving tax relief to manufacturers of medical grade oxygen as government braces for possible surge in demand amid rising Covid cases -19.
In his pre-recorded public speech broadcast Monday evening, Duterte said hospitals across the country should prepare supplemental oxygen because it is a “vital component” in the fight against Covid-19.
“If this gets really out of hand, we will need all the oxygen they can produce for the people. Kailangan talaga. Iyong unang … the first wave na dumaan sa atin, nagkakulang-kulang tayo sa oxygen. Kaya itong gumagawa ngayon , bigyan ninyo ng lisensya ‘pag tama lang. If everything is in order, bigyan ninyo na kaagad (We really need it. In the first wave that hit us, we ran out of oxygen. So those who produce it , give them a license if it hits us again. If everything is in order, give it to the manufacturers right away, “added the president.
“Maybe I will speak to Congress, bigyan kayo ng tax break diyan sa ginagawa ninyo (to give you tax break for what you do) because you are producing a very vital part in the fight against Covid-19 and the Delta variant , ” he said.
Earlier, a World Health Organization official urged the Philippines to increase their oxygen supplies in the face of the threat of the Delta variant.
In a meeting with the president, Food and Drug Administration chief executive Eric Domingo said there are 81 licensed manufacturers of medical grade oxygen in the country.
Of those, he said, 30 were approved in the past month alone as the agency braces for an expected increase in hospitalization rates.
“So far, ‘di naman tayo nakakakita pa ng is shortage dito sa ating oxygen supply (we are not yet seeing a shortage in our oxygen supply),” added Domingo.
Meanwhile, Commerce Secretary Ramon Lopez assured the public that the local oxygen supply was “three times more” than the current demand.
“The current capacity of the industry is about three times the current demand. There is a surplus on the producer side,” Lopez said.
“The current excess capacity includes both medical and industrial oxygen capacity[ies], and the latter can also be assigned to the production of medical oxygen if and when it is needed, “he added.
The Philippines has reverted to a “high risk” classification for Covid-19 following a surge in cases.
It registered 8,900 new cases of Covid-19 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 is caused by the spread of the Delta variant which has also resulted in a high number of Covid-19 cases in children.
First detected in India, the Delta variant is causing similar outbreaks in Indonesia, Thailand and other countries in Southeast Asia.
In the Philippines, there are already 450 cases of the Delta variant.
The variant has been detected in 17 cities and municipalities in the National Capital Region (Metro Manila), the health ministry said.
A total of nine deaths from the Delta variant have been recorded as of August 6.