A woman with a breathing problem receives oxygen support for free at a Gurudwara (Sikh temple), amidst the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Ghaziabad, India, April 30, 2021. [Photo/Agencies]

NEW DELHI – Amid spike in COVID-19 cases, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi Sunday held a virtual meeting with experts to review oxygen availability in the country, officials said.

“In line with his direction of exploring innovative ways to ramp up supply and availability of oxygen, PM Modi today chaired a meeting to review the usage of gaseous oxygen,” Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said.

During the virtual meeting, Modi reviewed the progress of converting nitrogen plants to oxygen plants in the country.

“Considering the requirement of medical oxygen amidst the COVID-19 pandemic situation, the government of India explored the feasibility of conversion of existing nitrogen plants to produce oxygen. Various such potential industries, wherein existing nitrogen plants may be spared for production of oxygen were identified,” the PMO said.

According to the PMO, so far 14 industries have been identified where the conversion of plants is under progress and further 37 nitrogen plants have been also identified with the help of industry associations.

“A nitrogen plant modified for the production of oxygen can be either shifted to a nearby hospital or, in case it is not feasible to shift the plant, it can be used for on-site production of oxygen, which can be transported to the hospital through specialized vessels/cylinders,” the PMO said.

India is witnessing a huge spike in daily COVID-19 cases.

According to the federal health ministry, on Sunday morning the country reported a daily surge of 392,488 cases and 3,689 related deaths in the past 24 hours.

India is witnessing a resurgence in COVID-19 cases and the second wave of the pandemic has caused a shortage of oxygen and essential medicines in the country’s hospitals.

Medical oxygen is in great demand in Indian hospitals, especially in the national capital New Delhi. In wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, hospitals are reeling under acute oxygen shortage and the government is importing some medical oxygen from foreign countries.