Several countries promise rapid aid as COVID rages in India

Several countries have promised to rapidly send supplies to help India as the country reels from shortages of oxygen and medicines amid a devastating second wave of the coronavirus.

The United States on Sunday said it was working to immediately deploy to India drug treatments, rapid diagnostic COVID-19 testing kits, ventilators and personal protective equipment and will seek to provide oxygen supplies as well.

The White House said in a statement it had identified sources of raw material urgently needed for India’s manufacture of the Covishield vaccine and will make those available.

European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen tweeted that the organisation was “pooling resources to respond rapidly to India’s request for assistance”.

France, the United Kingdom and Germany also promised rapid support. Neighbouring rival Pakistan offered medical equipment and supplies after Prime Minister Imran Khan tweeted prayers for a “speedy recovery”.

Record cases, deaths

International efforts to help India accelerated on Sunday as the country’s COVID-19 crisis grew with infections and deaths hitting record highs.

The healthcare system has struggled to cope with the huge surge, with reports of severe oxygen and medicine shortages and patients’ families pleading for help on social media.

India recorded 349,691 fresh cases and 2,767 deaths in the last 24 hours – the highest since the start of the pandemic.

India’s capital New Delhi, home to 20 million people and the worst-hit city in the country, extended its lockdown by a further week.

New Delhi on Saturday reported just over 24,000 new cases – with more than one-quarter of those tested returning positive results – and a record-high 357 deaths.

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