‘Alarmed’: Several Nations Come to India’s Aid Amid COVID Crisis
Nations, including the US, the UK, Germany, France and Pakistan, have come to India’s aid and expressed solidarity.
Several countries, including the United States of America (US), the United Kingdom (UK), the European Union (EU), Germany, Singapore, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, have come to India’s aid as the country faces an acute shortage of medical oxygen and other health infrastructure facilities amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
While several of these nations have already dispatched help, many others have officially offered to help India tackle the pandemic.
US President Joe Biden posted a tweet on Sunday, 25 April, promising to send over resources “to help India in its time of need”.
US Vice President Kamala Harris tweeted that the two governments are working closely to mitigate the COVID crisis in India, and extended her appreciation to the courageous healthcare workers.
White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan had a phone conversation with his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval and confirmed US support for India’s recent spike in COVID cases. India and US have the most COVID cases in the world. The two countries have agreed to stay in close contact to discuss further developments.
A press release from The White House read, “Building on the seven-decade health partnership between the United States and India – including battles against smallpox, polio, and HIV – they resolved that India and the United States will continue to fight the global COVID-19 pandemic together. Just as India sent assistance to the United States as our hospitals were strained early in the pandemic, the United States is determined to help India in its time of need.”
US has identified sources of specific raw material that India needs urgently to manufacture Covishield vaccine. The US Development Finance Corporation (DFC) will fund the expansion of BioE to increase vaccine production to 1 billion doses by the end of 2022.
“To help treat COVID-19 patients and protect frontline health workers in India, the United States has identified supplies of therapeutics, rapid diagnostic test kits, ventilators, and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) that will immediately be made available for India. The United States is also pursuing options to provide oxygen generation and related supplies on an urgent basis.”
The US is to deploy experts from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and USAID. The two will work together to fast-track mobilisation and access to emergency resources for India using The Global Fund.
Earlier on, Sullivan, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and other top officials have expressed concern over the coronavirus outbreak in India and pledged to deploy support.
Sullivan on Sunday, 25 April, tweeted, "We are working around the clock to deploy more supplies and support to our friends and partners in India." Blinken, too, made a similar statement.
Several other influential voices including Indian-American Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, the US Chamber of Commerce, a powerful trade body, senators and political representatives, such as Senator Ed Markey from Massachusetts and Democratic Representative Rashida Tlaib, also urged US President Joe Biden to ensure help for India.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki on Friday said that they were “working closely with Indian officials at both political and experts' level to identify ways to help address the crisis”.
United Kingdom on Sunday announced that it is sending over 600 medical devices including oxygen concentrators and ventilators to India to help the country, the British Foreign Ministry said.
The first shipment due to arrive in New Delhi on Tuesday, 27 April.
“We stand side by side with India as a friend and partner in the fight against COVID-19. We will continue to work closely with the Indian government during this difficult time,” Reuters quoted UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson as saying.
In a Facebook post in Hindi, President Emmanuel Macron announced that France will do all it can to help India and said, “We will win this together.”
Through a “solitary mission” to support India, France announced on Tuesday, that the country will send oxygen generation plants, ventilators, and other medical supplies.
Macron further said in his post, “Nobody is unaffected with the COVID pandemic. We know that India is going through a difficult phase. France and India have always remained united. We are doing everything we can to help.”
The French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs in a statement said, “Coordinated by the ministry’s Crisis and Support Centre and carried out by the Embassy of France in India, the mission will involve shipping by air and sea freight by the end of this week.”
French ambassador to India Emmanuel Lenain added that the “massive solidarity mission” is being supported by French companies present in India and the European Union.
The medical supplies will include eight high capacity oxygen generators, each capable of providing yearlong oxygen for a 250-bed hospital. Twenty-eight ventilators and ICU equipment will also be delivered.
Lenain added in a tweet that the mission “aims to both respond to the emergency and boost the long-term resilience of India's healthcare system.”
Ireland announced on Tuesday that it is sending 700 oxygen concentrators from its stockpile to support India during the pandemic, joining the list of countries helping India’s health infrastructure tackle the oxygen shortage in the country.
The Irish Embassy in India tweeted Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney’s statement saying, “At a time of great difficulty for India, we want to show solidarity with a country and people with whom we have strong historical and modern day relations.”
The Irish Embassy said the oxygen concentrators are expected to reach India by Wednesday morning, PTI reported.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that her government was preparing emergency aid for India.
“To the people of India I want to express my sympathy on the terrible suffering that COVID-19 has again brought over your communities," Merkel said in a message shared on Twitter by her spokesman Steffen Seibert.
While the nature of the help is yet unknown, several reports suggest that India has reached out to Germany for oxygen supply.
Ursula von der Leyen, President of European Commission called the situation in India “alarming” and assured support.
“Alarmed by the epidemiological situation in India. We are ready to support and are pooling resources to respond rapidly to India’s request for assistance via EU Civil Protection Mechanism. We stand in full solidarity with India,” she said.
Ugo Astuto, Ambassador of the European Union to India said that “the EU together with its member states will do its utmost to support India in this difficult moment.”
Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani on Sunday expressed his solidarity with the people of India.
"Our hearts go out to the Indian people and government as they fight the horrendous outbreak of COVID. On behalf of the Afghan people and government, we send our condolences to the families who lost their loved ones and wish a quick recovery to those who are suffering from the virus," Ghani tweeted.
Mohammed Haneef Atmar, the Foreign Minister of Afghanistan also extended support to India.
Pakistan ‘officially’ reached out to India in order to provide relief and support in the form of ventilators, X-Ray machines and other medical components required in the fight against the virus,
Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi took to Twitter to say: “As a gesture of solidarity with the people of India in the wake of the current wave of COVID-19, Pakistan has officially offered relief & support to #India, including ventilators, Bi PAP, digital X ray machines, PPEs & other related items. We believe in a policy of #HumanityFirst (sic).”
Prime Minister Imran Khan, too, expressed solidarity with India and said his country was praying for the “speedy recovery of all those suffering from the pandemic in our neighborhood & the world”.
A shipment of oxygen concentrators and other medical supplies were loaded in an Air India aircraft, at Changi Airport, to depart for India on Sunday night, ANI reported.
Russia is to provide oxygen generators, concentrators and drugs like Favipiravir to India in a special plane within this week. As per The Hindu, the Putin government was to send 3,00,000-4,00,000 injections of Remdesivir, which they may have to hold off due to US patent violations.
Foreign Minister of Australia Marise Payne extended solidarity saying her country will help India fight the pandemic. As per The Hindu, Payne said, “Australia sends solidarity to our friends in India as it tackles this latest COVID-19 outbreak. India’s generosity and leadership in providing vaccines to our region is appreciated.”
The Australian Government also agreed to commence procurement of 100 oxygen concentrators, along with tanks and consumables. Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade will manage the movement of PPE and equipment over the next week.
Australian government further said, “Our government is also supplying a significant package of PPEs, including one million surgical masks, 5,00,000 P2/N95 masks, 1,00,000 surgical gowns, 1,00,000 goggles, 1,00,000 pairs of gloves and 20,000 face shields to India.”
Canada’s Minister of Public Services and Procurement Anita Anand said on Saturday that their government is ready with PPE (personal protective equipment), ventilators and any items that might be useful for the Government of India, as per The Hindu.
Spokesman of Beijing’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Zhao Lijian indicated China’s firm support to India in mitigating the crisis, and to provide the Centre what it needs. “The Chinese side is maintaining communication with the Indian side on this,” said Zhao, quoted The Hindu.
Indian embassy in Bhutan’s Thimphu announced, on Tuesday, 27 April, that Bhutan will supply liquid oxygen to India.
40 metric tonnes of liquid oxygen produced by the oxygen plant will be exported to Assam using cryogenic tankers, the embassy said in a statement.
40 metric tonnes of liquid oxygen will be supplied daily, from the new plant being set up at the Motanga Industrial Estate, Samdrup Jongkhar district by a Bhutanese company, SD Cryogenics Gases Private Limited, the statement said.
The oxygen plant has a domestic investment of 51 per cent by the Bhutanese company and FDI component of 49 per cent by Assam-based Indian company Meghalaya Oxygen Private Limited.
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