Countries are sending supplies to India this week to help improve oxygen supply there as the nation’s coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis intensifies.
New coronavirus infections in India hit a record peak (352,991 new cases, 2,812 deaths) for a fifth day on Monday with hospitals overwhelmed and fearful of oxygen shortages. On Saturday, 20 patients died at Jaipur Golden hospital in Delhi after oxygen supplies reportedly ran low.
Countries around the world have offered to help and India has begun to airlift in medical supplies from abroad.
The United Kingdom has sent hundreds of oxygen concentrators and ventilators, with the first package set to arrive on Tuesday (27th April).
More than 600 pieces of vital medical equipment will be sent to India to support the country in its fight against Covid-19, the UK Government announced. In total, nine airline container loads of supplies, including 495 oxygen concentrators, 120 non-invasive ventilators and 20 manual ventilators, will be sent to the country this week.
The oxygen concentrators can extract oxygen from the air in the atmosphere so that it can be provided to patients, taking the strain off hospital oxygen systems and allowing oxygen to be provided in situations where hospital oxygen supplies have run out.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said, “Vital medical equipment, including hundreds of oxygen concentrators and ventilators, is now on its way from the UK to India to support efforts to prevent the tragic loss of life from this terrible virus. We will continue to work closely with the Indian government during this difficult time and I’m determined to make sure that the UK does everything it can to support the international community in the global fight against the pandemic.”
The US Government also said it “is pursuing options to provide oxygen generation and related supplies on an urgent basis”.
US national security adviser Jake Sullivan spoke on the telephone with India National Security Advisor Ajit Doval on Sunday, and the White House said it “has identified supplies of therapeutics, rapid diagnostic test kits, ventilators, and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) that will immediately be made available for India”.
The US is deploying an expert team of public health advisors from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and USAID to work in close collaboration with the US Embassy, India’s health ministries, and India’s Epidemic Intelligence Service staff.
Four cryogenic oxygen tankers from Singapore arrived in Indian on Sunday and the Indian Air Force has travelled to Dubai to pick up more empty oxygen containers.
Since Friday, the Indian Air Force has been airlifting empty oxygen tankers and across the country to help with the distribution and availability of medical oxygen to treat Covid-19 patients.
Germany and France are among other countries which will also send oxygen and medical aid to India this week, according to media reports.
The European Commission activated its European Union Civil Protection Mechanism and said it was seeking to send oxygen and medicine to India after receiving a request from Delhi.