The government has formed a taskforce to monitor and manage the supply of medical oxygen to hospitals across the country in a bid to address the scarcity of oxygen cylinders.

The government's move comes at a time when hospitals in urban areas are having a hard time treating patients requiring oxygen due to lack of cylinders.

It is learnt that the chairman of COVID-19 Crisis Management Centre, the apex government body dealing with the pandemic and Deputy Prime Minister Ishwar Pokharel, has formed a six-member monitoring team. The team will be led by Industry, Commerce and Supplies Ministry Joint Secretary Prem Kumar Shrestha, according to Pokharel's aide.

Other members of the team include representatives from the Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Health and Population, Birendra Hospital, Armed Police Hospital, and Nepal Police Hospital.

Currently, hospitals across the country have only about 7,000 to 8,000 oxygen cylinders.

This number is as less as 50 per cent of the total demand.

Yesterday, the CCMC, as per the hospitals' demand, had concluded that it immediately needed 15,000 oxygen cylinders to treat severely affected COVID-19 patients.

The demand of oxygen cylinders is rising at an alarming rate each passing day as there are over 88,000 active COVID cases in the country.

Health authorities have long been asking the government to manage oxygen supply throughout the country.

However, the government has not been able to act promptly on the matter.

Meanwhile, the government has also asked the public to call the toll free number 1140 if they face any problem in the midst of the pandemic.

A version of this article appears in the print on May 10, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.