Countries pledge to provide oxygen, medical assistance to India as crisis worsens

A health worker repairs an oxygen cylinder for a Covid-19 patient in a banquet hall converted into a quarantine center in New Delhi, India on April 23. AP

A number of countries have pledged to send oxygen and other medical aids to India as the country battles the strength of a devastating second wave of coronavirus, with hospitals in the capital reporting severe shortages of oxygen.

For the past two weeks, medical facilities have run out of oxygen and intensive care beds, patients have been left to die at home and outside hospitals while awaiting treatment.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday said the Delhi government was importing 18 oxygen tankers from Thailand, adding that they were expected to arrive on Wednesday.

“If these 18 tankers start arriving from tomorrow [Wednesday], the issue of oxygen transport will be resolved, ”he said.

France has also pledged to help, saying it will start sending medical aid to India by the end of this week, according to a press release from the French Foreign Ministry on Monday.

Eight medical oxygen production units, each of which will make an Indian hospital oxygen self-sufficient for ten years, will be part of the expedition. Liquefied oxygen containers and “specialized medical equipment” – particularly 28 respirators and their specific supplies – will also be part of the shipments, the press release said.

“In response to the needs expressed by the authorities of the country, this material is intended to respond to the emergency but also to significantly and sustainably strengthen the capacities of Indian hospitals to treat the sick and fight against the pandemic”, declared the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

France and India have always stood in solidarity with each other in difficult times. This solidarity is at the heart of our strategic partnership and of the friendship between the French and Indian peoples, ”he declared.

Kejriwal said Tuesday that Delhi “is importing 21 ready-to-use oxygen plants from France” which “can be imported for immediate use.” They will play a role in “solving the oxygen crisis in these hospitals,” he said.

Ireland was one of the first to confirm “concrete support” for India on Monday, according to Foreign Minister Simon Coveney. The Irish Minister for Health announced that Ireland would send 700 oxygen concentrators – which were originally purchased by the Irish health service as part of their pandemic planning.

Meanwhile, the South Korean Foreign Ministry said it was on Tuesday looking to help its urgently needed citizens with medical oxygen concentrators, while also planning to send medical supplies and Covid-19 as test kits in the country.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Choi Young-sam said in a briefing Tuesday that the Foreign Ministry is communicating closely with the embassy and consulates in India to ensure the safety of South Korean citizens.

A total of 20,201 cases and 380 deaths were recorded in Delhi on Monday evening, according to a bulletin released by the local health department.

The capital has reported more than 20,000 cases every day for the past ten days, with the total number of cases rising to 1,047,916, including 14,628 deaths.


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