400 oxygen concentrators enroute to India as UK Parliament focuses on COVID crisis

Aditi Khanna
·4-min read

London, Apr 28 (PTI) Britain has confirmed that following the first tranche of vital medical equipment a further 400 oxygen concentrators will be sent to India over the course of Wednesday and Thursday to help the country meet an overwhelming demand amid a “horrific” second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson opened the weekly Prime Minister's Questions (PMQs) session of Parliament with a message of solidarity with India and highlighted that discussions remain ongoing with the Indian government to establish further requirements.

It was also highlighted that Britain was the first country to deliver support, as the first shipment of 200 ventilators and 95 oxygen concentrators arrived in New Delhi on Tuesday and is already being distributed to Indian hospitals.

'The thoughts of members across the House are with the people of India,' Johnson told the House of Commons.

'We are supporting India with vital medical equipment and we will continue to work closely with the Indian authorities to determine what further help they may need,' he said.

The Opposition Labour Party also focused to the 'humanitarian disaster' the world is witnessing in India and called for more support by way of an urgent question tabled by shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy.

'The domestic tragedy engulfing India is now of such a scale that it constitutes a global emergency. India is now afflicted with at least 40 per cent of all new cases in the world, more than 2 million have been confirmed in the last week alone and the peak of this crisis may yet be weeks away,' said Nandy, the Indian-origin Labour MP for Wigan, northwest England.

'For more than a million Britons with loved ones in India this is a moment of fear and anxiety. The ties between our countries are woven into the fabric of this nation, something that through my own heritage I am personally and acutely aware of,” she said, calling for a “clear plan” from the government to ramp up the delivery of vital equipment and coordinate the international response.

'We can and must do more. India is still badly short of oxygen cylinders, concentrators, ventilators and therapeutic drugs especially Remdesivir,” she said.

Responding to the question on behalf of Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who is in Geneva for United Nations hosted talks, Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) Minister for Asia Nigel Adams said the UK remains in discussions with the Indian government and has been cautioned about compatibility issues over cylinders, resulting in a focus on concentrators.

'The government of India told us that oxygen has been a particular challenge so we moved quickly to deliver a package of medical equipment to address this need,” said Adams.

'A further 400 oxygen concentrators will follow today and tomorrow. This equipment will boost the oxygen supplies in India’s hospitals, which remain under severe pressure. So it’s without doubt that support provided by the United Kingdom will save lives,” he said.

The minister was asked a series of questions from cross-party MPs, including many of Indian origin such as Labour’s Nav Mishra and Tan Dhesi and Conservative MP Gagan Mohindra, who all spoke of being worried and concerned for family in India.

'The heartbreaking scenes in India have shocked us all… We stand with the Indian people in this hour of need. Taking our lead from what the Indian government advises is most useful,' said Adams.

He also referred to the 'irony' of this being the week when Johnson was to be in India to hold talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi but reiterated that it remains an important year in the UK-India relationship.

'He (Johnson) now has plans to speak to Prime Minister Modi via videolink in a coming period to take forward key deliverables across trade, defence, climate change, health and migration. It will finalise a 2030 Roadmap for relations as the strategic basis for our relationship, as soon as practically possible,” the minister said.

'Subject to the COVID-19 situation in India there may also be an opportunity for the Prime Minister to visit India in person later in the year,” he added. PTI AK ZH ZH