India Covid crisis: Now, expats can send loved ones oxygen concentrators as gifts
The exemption for oxygen concentrators is allowed only till July 31.
Now, expatriates in the UAE can send oxygen concentrators to their loved ones in India, even as the country is gasping for breath amid the Covid-19 crisis.
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Faced with an acute shortage of oxygen, the Indian government on Friday permitted import of oxygen concentrators for personal use, through post, courier or e-commerce portals, under the gift category. The exemption for oxygen concentrators are allowed only for a period till July 31, for personal use, according to a notification of the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) published on April 30.
“The import of goods, including those purchased from e-commerce portals, through post or courier, where customs clearance is sought as gifts, is prohibited except for life-saving drugs, medicine, oxygen concentrators and rakhi (but not gifts related to rakhi - an Indian festival),” the notification explained. Oxygen concentrators were added to the list to meet the high volume of demand for oxygen in the country.
From the UAE, medical retailers have said residents can purchase the oxygenator from retail outlets or online and use shipping services to export it to India. The product is also available on e-shopping portals such as Amazon.ae, noon.com, and desertcart.ae. However, the available delivery dates are only after May 25.
Jose Sreedharan, chief operations officer, Aster Retail, Aster DM Healthcare said the demand for oxygen concentrators have rapidly increased over the past several days causing existing stocks to be depleted. “We do keep a wide range of oxygen concentrators at Aster Pharmacies, but the use of such machines is under the recommendation and supervision of a medical practitioner.”
“We are in contact with all the local distributors and international manufacturers to secure stock and make them available. We have received a very positive response and we expect to see new stock arriving in the next five to ten days. We shall be making them available online at https://asteronline.com/,” he said
There are various models of oxygen concentrators which range in price from Dh3,500 to Dh6,000 for models that can deliver 5L of oxygen per hour and Dh7,000 to Dh9,000 for those capable of delivering ten litres.
Under Indian guidelines, gifts over INR1,000 (Dh50) face customs duty and integrated Goods and Service Tax (GST). While the government has suspended basic customs duty on several oxygen-related equipments till July, Integrated GST is required to be paid.
What is an oxygen concentrator?
An oxygen concentrator is a medical device that concentrates oxygen from ambient air. Dr Chaitanya Prakash Prabhu, a critical care medicine (specialist) at Aster Hospital, Qusais, said, “Normal air comprises of 79 per cent nitrogen and 21 per cent oxygen. For people who struggle with low levels of oxygen like those with COPD asthma and Covid pneumonia, this can be a problem.”
“Individuals with damaged lungs need to convert normal air into oxygen. An oxygen concentrator takes the regular air and purifies it into 90-95 per cent oxygen by using a compressor that moves the air through a sieve- filter which removes the nitrogen from the air distributes this purified oxygen through hoses inserted into the nostrils (prongs). The nitrogen is then released back into the air. “We have different types of oxygen concentrators they can be pulse or continuous. O2 concentrators differ in size, weight and flow, power and capacity,” said Dr Prabhu.
When does a person need to use an oxygen concentrator?
The doctor said only mild to moderately ill patients, who have an oxygen saturation level between 90-94, should depend on an oxygen concentrator and can use it at home. Because there is a scarcity of oxygen, even those with oxygen level as low as 85 can opt for one
“For someone with higher oxygen requirements, an oxygen cylinder is a better option. The most commonly used oxygen concentrators are 3-5 litres per minute.:”
The doctor strictly advised residents to take the recommendation of a physician before using an oxygen concentrator or a cylinder.
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