Britain to send medical kit to India following huge Covid-19 surge

Gavin Cordon, PA Whitehall Editor
·2-min read

Britain is to send more than 600 pieces of urgently-needed medical equipment to India following the devastating surge in coronavirus cases which has overwhelmed the country’s health services.

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office said the first of nine plane-loads of life-saving kit – including ventilators and oxygen concentrators – would arrive in New Delhi early on Tuesday.

The move follows discussions with the Indian government, with further consignments due be dispatched later this week.

It comes as for the fourth straight day on Sunday, India set a global daily record for new infections, with another 349,691 confirmed cases.

It took the country’s total to more than 16.9 million, behind only the United States.

Boris Johnson, who had been due to visit India this week before the latest deadly wave of the pandemic forced him to cancel – said the UK would do whatever it could to support the country through the crisis.

“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,” he said in a statement.

“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 (this) pandemic.”

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The assistance package includes 495 oxygen concentrators, 120 non-invasive ventilators and 20 manual ventilators from surplus UK stocks.

The Government said that it was in contact with the Indian authorities to establish what further assistance they required.

Boris Johnson
Prime Minister Boris Johnson had been due to visit India (Ian Forsyth/PA)

Labour urged the Government to extend its offer of help to include support in the areas of genome sequencing and epidemiology.

Shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy said: “Defeating this virus anywhere means defeating it everywhere. We have seen how quickly Covid-19 variants that have been identified in one country are able to spread rapidly across the globe.

“The UK can offer expertise and capacity in crucial areas like genome sequencing and epidemiology that have already proven vital in mapping and restricting the spread of coronavirus.

“It is vital, not only for protecting the lives of millions in the subcontinent, but also in limiting the spread of potentially vaccine-resilient variants to our own shores.”