More than 600 pieces of vital medical equipment including ventilators and oxygen concentrators will be on their way to India soon to support the country in its fight against Covid-19, the UK government said on Sunday.
The assistance package, funded by the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), follows a request from India and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s earlier commitment to help “friend and partner” India.
The first batch of life-saving equipment is due to arrive in New Delhi in the early hours of Tuesday, followed by further shipments through the week.
“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,” said Boris Johnson.
“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,” he said.
“We will continue to work closely with the Indian government during this difficult time and I’m determined to make sure that the UK does everything it can to support the international community in the global fight against the pandemic,” the UK PM added.
In total, nine airline container loads of supplies, including 495 oxygen concentrators, 120 non-invasive ventilators and 20 manual ventilators, will be sent from the UK to India next week.
“We are supporting our Indian friends with vital medical equipment at a difficult time for them in this pandemic,” said UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab.
“We have all got to work together to tackle Covid-19. India is a very important partner to us, so we’re providing oxygen concentrators and ventilators to help save the lives of the most vulnerable. We will be following up on this first delivery with further support, based on our ongoing discussions with the Indian government,” he said.
The UK government said its Department of Health and Social Care has worked closely with the National Health Service (NHS), as well as suppliers and manufacturers in the UK, to identify reserve medical equipment from surplus stocks that can be transported to India.
“The heart-breaking scenes in India show once again how awful this terrible disease is. We are determined to support the people of India through this very difficult time, and I am hugely grateful to those who have worked hard to make this initial delivery happen,” said UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock.
“This first delivery of life-saving equipment will provide much needed assistance and we stand ready to do more. The global pandemic has challenged health systems all across the world and the best way to overcome adversity is to unite and defeat this dreadful disease together,” he said.
The FCDO said the equipment on its way to India will be crucial in helping to save the lives of many vulnerable people. The oxygen concentrators can extract oxygen from the air in the atmosphere so that it can be provided to patients, taking the strain off hospital oxygen systems and allowing oxygen to be provided in situations where hospital oxygen supplies have run out.
The department said the government continues to work with the Indian government to identify further assistance it can provide in the coming days, describing it as the latest example of UK-India collaboration during the course of the pandemic.
The announcement comes as India recorded another day of devastating infection rates, with hospitals continuing to battle through oxygen supply shortages.