Under a special arrangement, 179.5 tonnes of oxygen were imported from India through the Benapole land port on Wednesday when Eid holiday was in progress.
Three importers of Bangladesh — Linde Bangladesh, Spectra Oxygen Ltd, and Pure Oxygen — imported the oxygen in 11 tankers to meet the increased demand for oxygen in the medical sector struggling to cope with the worsening coronavirus situation.
Our correspondent reported from the land port that C&F agent Royal Limited received the oxygen supply at the Benapole port on behalf of the importers.
An official of Linde Bangladesh said that they usually produce 90 tonnes of oxygen per day and supply it to medical and industrial sectors. But now they are producing medical oxygen as demand shot up during the pandemic.
“The demand for medical oxygen is increasing day by day. Now we arrange around 120-140 tonnes of oxygen from our own production, import and local sources,” the official said.
Coronavirus infections and deaths are increasing every day in Bangladesh during the recent wave.
Earlier, an official directive was issued to keep the oxygen import open at the port in case of emergency during the Eid holidays.
Kalyan Mitra, assistant commissioner of Benapole Customs House, said that when oxygen tankers arrived at the port in Jashore, they unloaded the item as soon as possible after completing the paperwork. The customs authorities were always ready for the formalities required to import emergency items including oxygen during the Eid holidays.
Sajedur Rahman, general secretary of the Benapole Port C&F Agent Staff Association, said that the import of oxygen on Eid days was made possible by the cooperation of ports, customs officials and traders.
Benapole Port Assistant Director (Traffic) Sanjay Barai said the Eid holiday started from Tuesday. However, due to the Covid-19 situation in the country, the prime minister directed to keep the port open for emergency oxygen import and the port was kept open for 24 hours even during the holidays.
Bangladesh on Friday reported 166 new coronavirus-related deaths and 6,364 new cases.
The total fatalities now stand at 18,851 and confirmed cases at 11,46,564. The daily positivity fell to 31.05 per cent. So far, 84.35 per cent of the patients have recovered.
The overall infection rate currently stands at 15.50 per cent.
Bangladesh reported its first coronavirus cases on March 8 last year.
According to the Directorate General of Health Services, 107 Covid-dedicated hospitals in the country had central oxygen lines until July 23. The hospitals have 26,990 oxygen cylinders, 1,744 high-flow nasal cannulas and 1,899 oxygen concentrators.