Published: Sun, April 25, 2021
Medical | By

PM Modi says India shaken by coronavirus 'storm', U.S. readies help

PM Modi says India shaken by coronavirus 'storm', U.S. readies help

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 United Kingdom government said on Sunday.

The country of 1.3 billion people has logged over a million new cases in the past three days, bringing its pandemic totals up to 16.9 million recorded cases of the coronavirus, including 192,311 deaths.

Doctors at New Delhi's All India Institute of Medical Sciences have found that one patient is now infecting up to nine in 10 contacts, compared with up to four past year.

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

Officials from both countries are engaged at various levels to ensure "a small supply of inputs and components from U.S. companies for production of COVID-19 vaccines in India", a spokesman at the Indian embassy in Washington, DC told Reuters.

Family members mourn after Shayam Narayan is declared dead outside the COVID-19 casualty ward, Guru Teg Bahadur hospital, New Delhi, April 23, 2021.

The situation is equally grim at unbearably full hospitals, where desperate people are dying in queues, sometimes on the roads outside, waiting to see doctors.

The crisis is in direct contrast with government claims that "nobody in the country was left without oxygen" in a statement made at Delhi High Court yesterday by India's Solicitor General, Tushar Mehta.

The government has also deployed military planes to get oxygen from the far corners of the country and overseas, including Singapore.

Earlier this year, the Indian government believed it had beaten the virus.

One man identified as Amit who was grieving for his brother at Delhi's Jaipur Golden hospital said he had seen families running around with oxygen cylinders trying to get them refilled.

Dr Krutika Kuppalli, assistant professor of medicine in the division of infectious diseases at the Medical University of SC, said the Indian government has been "very reactive to this situation rather than being proactive".

Other countries are looking to assist the country as it struggles with this second and more deadly wave.

India said this week it would soon expand its vaccination program from people aged 45 to include all adults, some 900 million people - well more than the entire population of the entire European Union and United States combined.

Instead, the government's premature declarations of victory over the pandemic created a "false narrative", which encouraged people to relax health measures when they should have continued strict adherence to physical distancing, wearing masks and avoiding large crowds.

The Supreme Court told Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government last week that it wanted a national plan for the supply of oxygen and essential drugs for the treatment of coronavirus patients.

Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel also went on social media to declare that Germany is preparing an urgent support mission to India, adding that Germany stands in solidarity with India.

A Twitter spokesman said it has powers to "withhold access to the content in India only" if the company determines the content to be "illegal in a particular jurisdiction".

India's Information Technology ministry did not respond to a request for comment.

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