New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday chaired another high-level meeting to discuss the shortage of medical oxygen in India amid the ongoing coronavirus crisis and stressed that there is an immediate need to augment the supply of O2 and other essential equipment to treat COVID-19 patients both at home and in hospitals.

Following his meeting, the central government announced that it has decided to grant full exemption from basic customs duty and health cess on import of items related to oxygen and other equipment for three months with immediate effect.

"PM directed Revenue Department to ensure seamless and quick customs clearance of such equipment. It was also decided that Basic Customs Duty on import of Covid vaccines be also exempted with immediate effect for 3 months," the government said in a statement.

Several meetings have been held by PM Modi to discuss the oxygen shortage in the country. On Friday, PM Modi had said that Railways and Air Force are being deployed to reduce the transportation time for oxygen tankers and all state governments need to work together to meet requirements of life-saving gas and medicines.

The Prime Minister had also urged states to work as one and coordinate with one another to fulfil medical requirements, asserting that "if we work as one nation, there will not be any scarcity of resources".

Hospitals in many states have complained of a shortage in their oxygen supply and sent out SOS messages, requiring the government to take urgent measures to increase the production and supply of the life-saving gas.

At least 22 patients had also died on Wednesday due to the interrupted supply of oxygen at a civic hospital for COVID-19 patients in Nashik in Maharashtra following the leakage from an oxygen storage plant.

(With PTI inputs)

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma