CEBU CITY – Authorities here have dispelled doubts on the sufficiency and availability of medical grade oxygen in Cebu.
In a joint statement on Wednesday, regional directors Maria Elena Arbon of the Department of Trade and Industry-7, Dr. Jaime Bernadas of Department of Health-7, and Food and Drug Administration regional field supervisor Rica Reina Aumentado assured the adequate supply of medical oxygen.
Their statement came after the assurance of three Cebu-based manufacturers of medical grade oxygen, namely Linde Philippines (South) Inc., MEPZ Mixed Gases Corp., and SUGECO-Cebu that on the average, they can produce between 600 to 800 cylinders a day based on current cylinder holdings and labor force.
“They can increase their production capacity to 200 percent in the event of a surge in critical Covid-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) cases that will require supply of medical oxygen,” the officials said.
In an earlier coordination meeting, FDA’s Aumentado disclosed that there are eight companies in Central Visayas that are registered with FDA as manufacturers of medical grade oxygen.
It coincides with the data of DTI-7 that there are eight product standards license holders –seven in Cebu and one in Bohol– that are into medical grade oxygen production, including the three companies.
“No need to panic,” said DTI-7’s Arbon, adding there is more than enough oxygen supply as producers are maintaining a range of four to 14 days inventory levels during normal times and not counting the unused capacity.
“If fear takes over our actions, we would succumb to panic buying. The resultant effects would be artificial shortage and hoarding,” she said.
Hoarding, under the Republic Act 7581 otherwise known as Price Act as amended by RA 10623, is punishable with a penalty of imprisonment for a period of not less than five years nor more than 15 years, and a fine of not less than PHP5,000 nor more than PHP2 million.
Bernadas, for his part, cautioned the public on the “danger of home use of medical oxygen without supervision of doctors and the storage hazards.”
Authorities have committed to steadfastly monitor the movement of price and supply of medical grade oxygen and go after those who take advantage of the situation.
For reports, consumers may reach DTI Cebu Consumer Protection Division via email: email@example.com, telephone: (032) 255-6971, 255-7082 and mobile hotline: 09178188419. (PNA)