Foreign countries, companies step up delivery of COVID-19 aid to India

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Washington, May 1 (PTI) Several countries and leading global companies have ramped up their production and delivery of emergency assistance to help India which is facing a devastating second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

US President Joe Biden has asked his administration to provide all assistance to India, which is battling one of the worst outbreaks of COVID-19, and has assured that Washington would stand shoulder-to-shoulder with New Delhi.

The Biden administration has committed to delivering more than USD100 million worth of supplies, including desperately-needed oxygen and related equipment, PPE and support for frontline health care workers, testing and vaccine manufacturing supplies, therapeutics, and public health assistance.

Another flight with USAID assistance materials including oxygen cylinders, N95 masks and filters to be used in the production of vaccines were dispatched from Dulles Airport to New Delhi. The first two flights arrived in New Delhi a day earlier.

Singapore on Saturday sent three cryogenic liquid oxygen tanks to India.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar during a phone call thanked his Singaporeian counterpart Vivian Balakrishnan for the support and facilitation provided on oxygen-related equipment supply.

China is also accelerating its production and delivery of 40,000 more oxygen generators ordered by India and 61 cargo flights operated between the two countries in the last two weeks, Chinese ambassador to India Sun Weidong said.

In his tweet on Saturday, Sun said: “China will do its utmost to support India fighting Covid-19.” “To my knowledge, freight air routes from China to India are operating normally. The past two weeks have witnessed 61 freight flights from China to India in operation,” he said.

Sun's comments came amid media reports of difficulties being faced by some US firms in sending medical shipments from China to India.

“We've provided convenience in customs clearance & transportation for India to transport medical supplies from cities in China. Will continue to ensure smooth functioning of export channel of materials to India,” he said in another tweet.

The Indian Embassy in Beijing tweeted on Saturday that a plane took off from Tianjin on Saturday, carrying 12 ISO containers procured commercially by an Indian company for transporting liquid medical oxygen.

“@EoIBeijing continues to coordinate with local agencies to facilitate transport and logistics of emergency supplies,” it said.

The commercial moment of medical supplies from China to India picked up pace after Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and expressed readiness to strengthen cooperation with India to fight the pandemic and provide help to deal with the current surge of COVID-19 cases in the country.

Among the leading global companies, American retail giant Walmart has announced it will donate up to 20 oxygen-generating plants and 20 cryogenic containers to India for the storage and transportation of the life-saving gas, and also provide USD 2 million to non-governmental organisations to help them fight the devastating surge in coronavirus cases.

Boeing on Friday announced a USD10 million emergency assistance package to support India’s COVID-19 response.

Leading global payments company Mastercard has donated USD 8.9 million to a New York-based non-profit body, American India Foundation, to install 2,000 portable beds in India, which is reeling from a deadly wave of the COVID-19.

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. PTI TEAM MRJ