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India Covid crisis: UK commits more medical aid

Prasun Sonwalkar/London
Filed on May 3, 2021
Photo: PTI

1.5 million-strong Indian diaspora in the UK collates help at various levels


After sending ventilators, oxygen concentrators, and oxygen generation units to New Delhi last week, the Boris Johnson government on Sunday committed more aid, including 1,000 ventilators, as the 1.5 million (m)-strong Indian diaspora collated help at various levels.

The latest package is in addition to 200 ventilators, 495 oxygen concentrators, and three oxygen generation units announced last week.

Two leading figures in the United Kingdom’s (UK) fight against Covid-19 – chief medical officer Chris Whitty and chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance – have spoken to their Indian counterparts to provide advice, insight, and expertise as they deal with the world’s worst surge in Covid-19 levels.

Official sources said the state-run National Health Service (NHS) is also establishing a clinical advisory group led by its chief people officer Prerana Isaar to support India’s Covid-19 response. The group will work with Indian institutions such as the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) to share experience on managing Covid-19 outbreaks.

Businesses, civil society, and the wider public have responded to appeals for help and launched funding drives, including the British Asian Trust’s (BAT) ‘Oxygen for India’ emergency appeal, which is raising funds for oxygen concentrators to be rapidly deployed to Indian hospitals.

The BAT appeal, which has been personally backed by the Prince of Wales, has raised more than £1.5m (Dh7.62m) in the last week. Virgin Atlantic also flew 200 boxes of oxygen concentrators to Delhi on Saturday, after partnering with Khalsa Aid. Further cargo space will be given free of charge on six flights to India in the next week, in association with The Red Cross.

On Tuesday, Johnson is scheduled to hold a virtual meeting with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi to agree on a range of commitments to deepen cooperation between the UK and India, including on fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

Johnson said: “The terrible images we have seen in India in recent weeks are all the more powerful because of the close and enduring connection between the people of the UK and India. I am deeply moved by the surge of support the British people have provided to the people of India and am pleased the UK Government has been able to play its part in providing life-saving assistance. The UK will always be there for India in its time of need.”

The charity organisations gathering aid and support include ActionAid, Action Against Hunger, the British Red Cross, CAFOD, CARE International, Christian Aid, Concern, Age UK, Islamic Relief, Oxfam, Plan UK, Save the Children, Tearfund and World Vision.

Foreign secretary Dominic Raab added: “This support will help urgently meet some of India’s acute needs, particularly oxygen for patients. We are determined to help our Indian friends in their hour of need. We need to all work together to defeat Covid-19. No one is safe until we are all safe.”





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