As India’s tally of covid-19 infections crossed 300,000 for the sixth straight day on Tuesday, more countries pledged to support the world’s hardest-hit hotspot with supplies of medical equipment and oxygen required to treat thousands of critically ill patients who are desperately looking for treatment.
India counted 314,409 new cases and 2,509 deaths on Tuesday as the first shipments of aid arrived in the country—oxygen concentrators, non-invasive ventilators and manual ventilators from the UK. The second batch of medical equipment from the UK was expected in the coming days, an Indian official said.
Over the past few days, the US, France, Germany, Kuwait and Russia have pledged support to India as it battles a ferocious second wave of covid-19 infections that has overwhelmed the country’s health infrastructure. On Tuesday, key US business groups such as the US-India Business Council and the US Chamber of Commerce, besides chief executive officers of more than 40 companies, announced the formation of a “Global Task Force on Pandemic Response: Mobilizing for India.” This followed a meeting between US secretary of state Antony Blinken and members of the US business community to leverage private sector support to help India battle the surge in infections. Some major companies like Apple Inc., Google Inc, Microsoft Corp. and Deloitte have already announced aid for India.
Shortages of key drugs, lack of oxygen and hospital beds are among the challenges confronting health care workers.
On Tuesday, Australia, Bhutan, Ireland, Portugal and Sweden were among nations that promised to send aid to India.
“As many countries are doing, what Australia will do is we will provide an initial package…of support and to deliver this as soon as possible,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in Canberra.
A news report in Bhutanese media said the tiny kingdom would be sending oxygen to its giant southern neighbour.
In a statement from Brussels on Tuesday, the 27-member European Union said, “Urgently needed oxygen, medicine and equipment will be delivered over the coming days by EU member states to India, following the country’s request for support through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism.”
As part of this effort, Ireland was to dispatch 700 oxygen concentrators, an oxygen generator, 365 ventilators; Belgium was to send 9,000 doses of antiviral drug remdesivir; Romania to help with 80 oxygen concentrators and 75 oxygen cylinders; Luxembourg to send 58 ventilators; Portugal to dispatch 5,503 vials of remdesivir and 20,000 litres of oxygen; while Sweden was to channel 120 ventilators.
“More EU support from other member states is expected to be given in the coming days, including from France and Germany,” said Janez Lenarčič, EU Commissioner for Crisis Management. “The EU stands in full solidarity with the Indian people and is ready to do our utmost to support them at this critical time.”