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Due to low supply of tanks, only oxygen refills available in Bambang in Manila

Medical supplies stores on Bambang Street in Sta. Cruz, Manila are selling only oxygen refills for now due to the low supply of new oxygen tanks.

The refill for a 50-lb. oxygen tank goes for P370, while those for 15-lb. and 20-lb. tanks cost around P220, according to a report on GMA's Unang Balita on Monday.

Vendors said suppliers could only deliver new oxygen tanks once a week or even longer, due to the high demand and low supply.

They said even consumers with no COVID-19 case in the family have been bringing their oxygen tanks for refilling as preparation for any eventuality.

Last month, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the government is considering regulating the sale of oxygen tanks in light of the possible surge of COVID-19 cases due to the more transmissible Delta variant.

Vergeire said this is to ensure that only those in need of oxygen tanks would be able to buy them.

"So dapat prescribed siya [it should be prescribed]," she said.

Vergeire also said the Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Trade and Industry were talking with manufacturers of oxygen tanks to ramp up production.

The Philippine Confederation of Industrial Gases Inc. (PCIG) meanwhile said last month the supply of medical-grade oxygen in the country is sufficient but the seeming shortage of oxygen tanks arises from the slow turnover from hospitals to refillers.

The Philippine National Police has appealed to the public to avoid hoarding oxygen tanks and other medical supplies amid the continuing increase in the number of COVID-19 infections.

The DOH reported 20,019 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, raising the country's total tally to 2,080,984.

According to the DOH, the new cases brought the country's active cases to 157,438, of which 92% are mild, 3.4% asymptomatic, 1.4% severe, and 0.7% in critical condition.

On the other hand, the total recovery count rose to 1,889,312 after 20,089 more patients defeated the respiratory illness.

However, the death toll rose to 34,234 with 173 new fatalities. —KG, GMA News