DOH 7 Director Dr. Jaime Bernadas, in an advisory issued on Wednesday, Aug. 4, 2021, said medical grade oxygen is an important element in the management of severe and critical coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) cases and its related complications.
However, its use as a therapeutic modality must only be limited in hospital settings where healthcare workers can closely monitor patients, he said.
Improper use of oxygen, Bernadas said, could cause oxygen toxicity or damage to the lungs because of too much or the unregulated amount of oxygen, leading to lung tissue trauma.
“For an individual whose lungs are already inflamed due to the Sars-CoV-2 virus infection, unsupervised oxygen therapy can lead to more damage and even death,” he said.
For this reason, the DOH 7 “strongly” advised the public not to purchase medical grade oxygen for home use.
Before the DOH 7 released its advisory, there was a panic buying of oxygen tanks at a pharmacy across Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC) in Cebu City last Monday morning, Aug. 2. This happened a day after images of patients waiting in their cars and outside Chong Hua Hospital were circulated in social media.
Bernadas said suspected symptomatic individuals must seek immediate medical attention for appropriate treatment.
The Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) has started its monitoring on the supply of medical oxygen; it does not only want to ensure that there would be no more panic buying, but it also wants to prevent hoarding of supplies.
CCPO Deputy Director for Operation Wilbert Parilla said the medical oxygen suppliers told the officials of the Cebu City Emergency Operations Center (EOC) that there is no problem with the supply.
Parilla said they would conduct an investigation if they receive a report about a pharmacy that sabotages medical oxygen supply by hoarding, and the owner would face complaints if there is enough evidence.
The suppliers admitted during the EOC meeting that there was an increase in medical oxygen demand because of the increasing Covid-19 cases, but they said it did not affect the supply.
Cebu is one of the sources of medical oxygen because the manufacturers are based in the province. (WBS, AYB / KAL)