UK rushes to send 1,000 more ventilators to India as Covid surge kills thousands daily

2 May 2021, 18:46 | Updated: 2 May 2021, 20:52

A shipment of ventilators arrives in India from the UK earlier this week
A shipment of ventilators arrives in India from the UK earlier this week. Picture: PA

By Patrick Grafton-Green

The UK is rushing to send a further 1,000 ventilators to India as a surge in coronavirus infections kills thousands every day.

Boris Johnson promised "the UK will always be there for India" as he committed fresh assistance for the country's struggling healthcare system.

The Prime Minister made the pledge ahead of a call with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi on Tuesday, arranged to replace a visit to New Delhi which was cancelled as cases spiralled.

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The 1,000 ventilators from the UK's surplus supply are in addition to 200 sent last week, in shipments that have included nearly 500 oxygen concentrators.

India has recorded more than 390,000 new infections and 3,600 deaths over the past 24-hour period, raising the overall death toll to more than 215,500.

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In a statement, Mr 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 our part in providing life-saving assistance.

"The UK will always be there for India in its time of need."

Professor Chris Whitty, England's chief medical officer, and Sir Patrick Vallance, the chief scientific adviser, have spoken to their counterparts in India to share the expertise they have gained during the pandemic.

NHS England is also establishing a clinical advisory group to support India's response by sharing knowledge on how to manage outbreaks.

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The UK is coming under increasing pressure to send vaccines, with India in dire need despite being the world's largest manufacturer of jabs.

A UK order of five million AstraZeneca doses has been stalled in the country over a need for retesting and there have been questions over whether the Government should allow them to be used there.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab will meet his Indian counterpart Subrahmanyam Jaishankar this week as he hosts face-to-face meetings with G7 foreign ministers.