MANILA - The Philippines has ample supply of medical-grade oxygen amid a surge in COVID-19 infections, the head of the Food and Drug Administration said Thursday.
FDA Director General Eric Domingo said the agency has given licenses to about 30 more manufacturers of medical oxygen across the country, increasing the number to 81.
This is on top of 30 hospitals have been allowed to manufacture oxygen for their own use, he said.
"So far, 'yung manufacturing capability and supply capability ng manufacturers natin, hindi pa umaabot ng 50 percent ang nagagamit and we are confident that we are not going to have a big problem with our oxygen supply," he told ANC's Headstart.
(So far, the manufacturing capability and supply capability of our manufacturers, not even 50 percent has been used and we are confident that we are not going to have a big problem with our oxygen supply.)
However, Domingo cautioned against careless use of these oxygen tanks at home, as he underscored that these are actually classified as medicine.
"It’s actually a prescription drug. Ito nga ang babala namin sa mga tao. Ang oxygen po, bagama’t kailangan natin siya kapag may sakit tayo sa baga, it can also be toxic and it can also be harmful if not used properly especially at such high concentration," he said.
"Do not use it haphazardly at home. Hindi po 'yan pwede bilhin na para kang bumili ng kahit ano lamang. Kailangan po 'yan may reseta ng doktor," he added.
(It's actually a prescription drug. This is our warning to people. Oxygen, although we need it when we have lung problems, can also be toxic and it can also be harmful if not used properly especially at such high concentration. Do not use it haphazardly at home. It cannot be bought like other things. It needs a doctor's prescription.)
The government is reportedly studying how to regulate sale of oxygen tanks in preparation for a surge in COVID-19 cases that could possibly overwhelm the country's health care system.
Infections continue to rise in the country, with a 4-month high of 12,021 additional cases reported on Wednesday. Deaths climbed to a total of 29,374 and recoveries were at 1.57 million. Active cases were pegged at 81,399.