Kenya is facing an acute shortage of oxygen in hospitals across the country, the ministry of health says.
This has been caused by a rising number of Covid-19 cases as the country experiences a deadly third wave – with some Kenyans and private institutions stocking up on the commodity.
On Monday, Health Minister Mutahi Kagwe said Kenyans were hoarding some 20,000 oxygen cylinders in private facilities, homes and institutions.
He said the cylinders were desperately needed in public hospitals to save lives – and appealed to Kenyans to take them back to manufacturers.
“I wish to make an appeal to those holding cylinders, be they hospital facilities or individuals in other sectors, please return those cylinders to manufacturers so they can refill and use them in hospitals that need them,” he said.
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The market demand for oxygen has more than doubled to a current demand of 880 tonnes from 410 tonnes before the arrival of the pandemic, according to the health ministry.
The demand for oxygen cylinders – which are in short supply and expensive to manufacture in the short term – has caused challenges in the distribution of oxygen across the country.
Kenya has confirmed more than 130,000 cases of coronavirus infections and over 2,000 deaths.