S African oxygen concentrators, CPAP machines to help India combat COVID-19 crisis

Fakir Hassen
·3-min read

Johannesburg, May 1 (PTI) A prominent South Africa-based relief aid organisation is sending over 100 oxygen concentrators and continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines, which had a huge impact on saving lives in the country, to help India fight a raging coronavirus crisis.

According to the data updated by the Union Health Ministry on Saturday, India's daily coronavirus tally crossed the grim milestone of four lakh, while the death toll rose to 2,11,853 with 3,523 fresh fatalities.

The infection tally rose to 1,91,64,969 with 4,01,993 new cases, while the active cases crossed the 32-lakh mark.

The organisation Gift of the Givers (GOTG) is coordinating the efforts to supply the CPAP machines and discussions are going on to urgently deliver them to India.

'We have spoken to the Department of International Relations and Cooperation as well as Minister of Trade and Industry Ebrahim Patel and they have said that the oxygen issue is being discussed government-to-government. (They said) South Africa is trying to arrange the oxygen for India to some extent because it is very complicated,” GOTG founder Imtiaz Sooliman told the TV new channel ENCA on Friday.

'In terms of oxygen machines, GOTG suggested the CPAP machines that were designed and developed in South Africa by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, which we rolled out in (our) second wave (at the end of last year) and which had a huge impact on saving lives in the different hospitals,” he said.

The advantage of this machine is that it uses much less oxygen. In the crisis in India right now, you need machines that can deliver oxygen supply, can have a big operation turnover quickly for patients; and can have quick saturation to prevent lung damage and death. The CPAP machines will be ideal for this situation, Sooliman said.

He said within just 12 hours of launching the campaign, the first 100 oxygen concentrators had already been purchased.

“Gift of the Givers has purchased another 80 oxygen concentrators that will be sent to India,” the NGO said in a tweet.

“The first batch of oxygen concentrators Package was purchased last night, in response to the alarming increase of COVID19 cases in India,” it said in another tweet.

Registration red tape could, however, delay delivery of the machines to India, as the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority has to first register the machine for international use and the Indian government has to register it for its local use in India.

“The Indian officers have been very good. They said they would clear everything immediately. We have already sent them the specs. They said that if they are happy, they will fast-track the registration with immediate effect,” Sooliman said.

“My real purpose (now) is to get the CPAP machines registered because we have seen them work in South Africa. We know what they can do. The doctors in South Africa call it a life-saving machine,” he said.

Sooliman said the message from India was “very simple” - they require oxygen and oxygen delivery machines.

“There are some other requests, but these two are the most important right now,” he said.

Sooliman also cautioned South Africans against becoming complacent and finding themselves in the same situation that India is in right now.

“India was quite happy that the count was coming down. It just shows that with COVID-19 you cannot be complacent. Right now, in South Africa, everybody is very happy too,” he said.

This was because the count was also down and hospitals had very few COVID-19 patients.

“We have become complacent and this is when the virus strikes. We have to be very, very careful – the crisis is not over yet. We will definitely not cope if we get that kind of strain here in South Africa,” Sooliman said, as he appealed for strict adherence to the COVID-19 protocols of masks, social distancing and avoiding large gatherings. PTI FH MRJ MRJ