UK sends hundreds of vital medical items to India as Covid cases surge

25 April 2021, 16:04 | Updated: 25 April 2021, 16:59

Vital supplies will be sent to India as it struggles with Covid cases
Vital supplies will be sent to India as it struggles with Covid cases. Picture: PA

By Will Taylor

Ventilators and life-saving pieces of equipment will be sent to India as the UK moves to support the country's fight against surging Covid cases.

More than 600 items will be sent, including oxygen concentrator devices, with fears of a severe oxygen shortage mounting.

The UK kit, which comes from surplus stocks, will reach Dehli early on Tuesday, the Foreign Office (FCDO) said.

It comes as India, which has asked for help, began setting global records for the number of daily cases it reported.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: "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.

Read more: 'We're in the middle of a war': India is overwhelmed by deadly Covid surge

"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.

"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 pandemic.”

India reported 314,000 cases by April 22, the most confirmed over 24 hours anywhere in the world.

Read more: Dozens more cases of Indian coronavirus variant detected in UK

According to the World Health Organisation, more than 16 million cases have been recorded in the country, alongside 189,000 deaths.

The UK added India to the red list of countries where travel is largely banned amid worries about a coronavirus variant identified there.

Boris Johnson had to cancel his planned visit.

Nine airline container loads of supplies, including 495 oxygen concentrators, 120 non-invasive ventilators and 20 manual ventilators, will also be sent.

"This equipment will be crucial in helping to save the lives of the most vulnerable in India," the FCDO said in a statement.

"The oxygen concentrators, for example, 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."

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said: "We are supporting our Indian friends with vital medical equipment at a difficult time for them in this pandemic.

"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."