DTI-7 urges public to stop panic buying, hoarding of oxygen tanks
CEBU CITY, Philippines—The Department of Trade and Industry in Central Visayas (DTI-7) urged the public not to hoard medical-grade oxygen.
DTI-7, in a joint statement with the Central Visayas offices of the Department of Health (DOH-7) and Food and Drugs Administration (FDA), reiterated earlier assurances from concerned government agencies that the region has sufficient supply of medical oxygen amid increase in demand here due to rising cases of COVID-19.
“There is more than enough oxygen supply as MGO (medical-grade oxygen) producers are maintaining a range of four to 14 days inventory levels during normal times, and not counting the unused capacity,” portions of the press release said.
The PR was electronically signed by directors Maria Elena Arbon of DTI-7, Dr. Jaime Bernadas of DOH-7, and Rica Reina Aumentado of FDA – 7.
Arbon, for her part, warned buyers and retailers alike that they may face criminal and civil charges if they are caught hoarding medical-grade oxygen tanks.
“Hoarding, under RA (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 give years nor more than 15 years, and a fine of not less than P5,000 no more than P2 million,” explained Arbon.
DTI-7 also said that Cebu’s three largest manufacturers of medical oxygen have the capacity to increase their combined production up to a total of 200 percent should the demand continue to increase.
There are at least eight firms in Central Visayas accredited by regulating bodies to produce medical-grade oxygen, seven of which are based in Cebu.
The number of COVID-19 infections here have been increasing, which eventually led to hospitals running out of beds intended for infected patients.
Individuals also started to flock to drug stores to buy oxygen tanks to help their loved ones fighting COVID-19 both in hospitals and in their own homes.
The Cebu Provincial Government has intervened, and issued regulations for the sale and distribution of medical-grade oxygen to prevent shortage.
DOH-7 has also cautioned the public of installing oxygen tanks in their houses, and advised them to seek assistance from medical workers.
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