A consignment of containers for the transportation of medical oxygen has arrived in India from Thailand while some more empty tankers will be airlifted from Singapore, the Union Home Ministry said on Tuesday.
The empty oxygen containers from Thailand are the third such consignment to be flown to the country in the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) transport aircraft by the home ministry amidst a surge in Covid-19 cases and a subsequent increase in demand for medical oxygen.
“Some glimpses of airlift of oxygen containers from Bangkok by IAF last night. The airlift is being coordinated by MHA. It will enhance oxygen availability amid current Covid-19 surge,” a home ministry spokesperson said in a tweet, sharing pictures of the oxygen containers being loaded into an IAF aircraft. In another tweet, the home ministry said, “IAF C17 transport aircraft gearing up to airlift more empty oxygen containers from Singapore today. These containers will further boost oxygen availability in the country in view of the current Covid-19 surge. The airlift is being co-ordinated by MHA.” The first consignment of empty oxygen containers was airlifted from Singapore on Saturday. Another batch of containers was brought from Dubai on Monday.
All three aircraft carrying the containers landed in West Bengal. From there, they were taken to oxygen generating sites to be filled up and for onward transportation to the high-demand areas, mostly through special trains. India is struggling with the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic and hospitals in several states are reeling under a shortage of medical oxygen and beds as the number of cases rises.
Meanwhile, Ireland on Tuesday joined a growing list of countries helping India tide over the coronavirus crisis as it announced sending 700 oxygen concentrators and other medical supplies to the country. The Irish embassy here said the oxygen concentrators are expected to reach India by Wednesday morning. “Ireland is sending 700 oxygen concentrators to India to help healthcare workers in providing timely aid to patients. The concentrators are expected to reach India by Wednesday early morning,” it said. Irish ambassador Brendan Ward said Ireland is in close contact with the Indian government and that it is looking at more assistance to India in dealing with the pandemic. “The situation in India is being followed closely in Ireland where there is now a large Indian community. Indian medical professionals are very important to our health system,” he said.
“We are pleased to be able to offer these oxygen concentrators now. We are in close contact with the Indian government and we are looking at what further assistance we could offer such as ventilators and other equipment, the envoy said.
India is reeling under a devastating wave of coronavirus infections and hospitals across the country are facing acute shortage of beds, medical oxygen and other supplies due to rising COVID-19 cases. The US, Germany, France, Britain, Australia, Singapore, Israel and several other countries as well as the World Health Organisation and the European Union have already announced urgent medical assistance to India to help it deal with the situation. The Irish embassy said Ireland has also pledged to send ventilators to India and the the gesture of solidarity is a part of the European Union’s coordinated response to help the country overcome the surge in COVID-19 cases. India director of IDA Ireland Tanaz Buhariwalla said the Irish government is happy to support India in its fight against the pandemic.
“India and Ireland have a strong relationship spanning decades. We are happy that during these difficult times, the Irish government has extended an arm to support our war against COVID 19 and aid the healthcare workers,” Buhariwalla said. IDA Ireland focuses on encouraging investment into Ireland by foreign-owned companies.
The country’s Covid-19 caseload mounted to 1,76,36,307 on Tuesday with 3,23,144 more people testing positive for the viral disease. The death toll climbed to 1,97,894 as 2,771 more fatalities were recorded, according to Union health ministry data. Since April 23, the home ministry has been coordinating efforts to deploy empty oxygen tankers and containers at various filling stations across the country to speed up the distribution of life-saving oxygen.
The central government is trying to source oxygen from different parts of the country and making it available to the worst-hit states by running special trains.