The European Union and the United Kingdom on Sunday offered medical support to India as a devastating surge of coronavirus infections engulfed the country, crippling its healthcare system.
The European Commission said it had activated its EU Civil Protection Mechanism and was seeking to send oxygen and medicine to virus-hit India after receiving a request from New Delhi. “Alarmed by the epidemiological situation in India. We are ready to support,” Commission President Ursula von der Leyen wrote on Twitter on Sunday.
“The EU executive is already coordinating with EU countries that are ready to provide urgently needed oxygen & medicine rapidly,” European Commission for Humanitarian Aid Janez Lenarcic wrote on Twitter.
The United Kingdom said it was sending life-saving medical equipment to India, including ventilators and oxygen concentrators, reported AFP.
The first shipment is expected to reach Delhi early Tuesday, with more scheduled for the coming week. In total, nine containers carrying over 600 pieces, including 495 oxygen concentrators, 120 non-invasive ventilators and 20 manual ventilators, will be sent by the country.
“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,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson said.
“We stand side by side with India as a friend and partner during what is a deeply concerning time in the fight against Covid-19.”
Later on Sunday, United States President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris too promised to help India in its fight against the pandemic. The US National Security Advisor spoke to his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval and promised to make available the raw material required to manufacture the Covishield vaccine.
India has seen a massive surge in Covid-19 cases in recent days, with hospitals in the Capital and across the country turning away patients after running out of medical oxygen and beds. Patients are struggling to get access to medicines and ventilators, and hospitals are taking to Twitter and going to court to desperately plead for more oxygen supplies.
On Monday, the country reported a record-breaking 3,52,991 new cases in a day, taking the total number of infections since the pandemic broke out in January 2020 to 1,73,13,163. This is the highest ever single-day rise in cases reported by any country so far, and the fifth consecutive day when the country has set such a grim global record.
For the first time, 2,812 deaths were registered. The toll is now 1,95,123.
Meanwhile, according to reports, Russia is also planning to fly special planes with oxygen generators and concentrators as well as drugs needed for the treatment of the coronavirus.
Unidentified officials told The Hindu the grant-based assistance could begin to arrive this week, possibly in the next few days. Moscow will send oxygen generating equipment for various purposes, ranging from use in individual homes to nursing homes and hospitals, as well as supplies of drugs like Favipiravir, used to treat milder versions of Covid-19, the newspaper reported.
The country initially had also offered to provide the highly sought remdesivir, but the move ran into trouble after Gilhead Sciences, which produces the drug, invoked US licensing laws. Officials told The Hindu that the Russian side has now conveyed that exports of the drug may not be sent to India unless the issue is resolved.