Wednesday Apr 28, 2021
As the number of coronavirus cases surges in India, leading to a critical situation due to shortage of oxygen and space in hospitals to treat the patients, Russia on Wednesday announced that it would deliver emergency aid to the coronavirus-hit country.
According to Kremlin, President Vladimir Putin called Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday and made the commitment.
India has become the global epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic, recording 360,000 new infections — a world record — and more than 3,000 deaths on Wednesday.
"Vladimir Putin expressed words of support to Narendra Modi in this difficult period in the fight against the spread of the coronavirus infection and informed him about the decision to provide India with emergency humanitarian aid," the Kremlin said in a statement.
It added that the Russian deliveries will include "20 units of equipment for the production of oxygen, 75 artificial lung ventilation devices, 150 medical monitors and 200,000 packages of medicines".
The Kremlin said Modi "warmly thanked the President of Russia for the assistance provided, which is largely of a high-tech nature and is in great demand in the country".
The Russian news agency RIA Novosti cited the trade and industry ministry as saying that the 200,000 medicine packages would be favipiravir, an antiviral medication.
The news agency also cited the emergencies ministry as saying that two transport planes would carry "more than 22 tonnes (48,500 pounds) of medical equipment" from Russia to India.
Britain also announced Wednesday it was sending three oxygen generation units to India following a first consignment of aid this week, but said it had no spare vaccines to offer.
The three units, dubbed oxygen factories, are each the size of a shipping container and can produce 500 litres of oxygen per minute, the UK government said.
"We stand with our Indian friends in their fight against Covid-19," Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said in a statement.
"International collaboration is more essential than ever, and this additional UK support package will help meet India´s current needs, particularly for more oxygen."
The new shipment follows the first batch of oxygen concentrators and ventilators from Britain which arrived in India on Tuesday, with more of those supplies coming on Friday.
In total, Britain is sending 495 oxygen concentrators and 200 ventilators to India this week. There was no immediate response from the Foreign Office to an AFP query about when the container-sized factories would arrive.
The United States says it is sending up to 60 million doses of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine abroad, with India expected to be among the recipient nations.
Critics have accused Washington of "hoarding" the British-developed vaccine, which is not authorised in the United States and will likely not be required to vaccinate Americans.
Britain itself does not have any surplus vaccines to offer India "at the moment", Health Secretary Matt Hancock told a news conference.
But he said research by experts at Oxford University underpinned the AstraZeneca jab, and "that is the biggest contribution that we can make which effectively comes from British science", along with the oxygen supplies.