COVID-19: UK to send 1,000 more ventilators to India as it battles surge in coronavirus cases

The UK is to send 1,000 more ventilators to India as it battles a surge in coronavirus cases.

Announcing the extra support, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “The UK will always be there for India in its time of need.”

The shipment of ventilators, which will be dispatched from the UK’s surplus supply, follows on from the announcement last week that 200 ventilators, 495 oxygen concentrators and three oxygen generation units would be sent to India.

India set yet another daily global record for COVID-19 cases on Saturday, with 401,993 new infections reported.

A further 392,488 cases were reported on Sunday, taking the country’s total since the pandemic began to more than 19.5 million.

A total of 215,542 deaths have been recorded, but experts believe the true figure is higher.

A record 3,689 COVID fatalities were reported on Sunday.

Mr Johnson, who last month cancelled his trip to India because of the coronavirus situation there, will hold a virtual meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday.

According to Number 10, the pair will agree a “huge range of commitments to deepen co-operation” between the two nations, including on fighting the pandemic.

In addition to the equipment that is being sent to India, the UK is taking a number of other steps to help.

Professor Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer, and the government’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance have spoken with their Indian counterparts to offer advice, insight and expertise.

NHS England had set up a clinical advisory group, led by Chief People Officer Prerana Issar, to support India’s pandemic response.

It will work with institutions in the country to share experience on managing outbreaks of COVID.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “This additional support will provide more capacity and expertise to help save lives and support India’s healthcare system.

“We will continue to work closely with the Indian government during this immensely challenging time.”

Speaking before the government’s announcement, Labour’s Lisa Nandy told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday the UK “can and should do more” to help India.

She said India “stepped up for us when almost almost a year ago today we were in real dire straits” and “struggling to contain the impact of the pandemic”.

The shadow foreign secretary continued: “We were woefully unprepared and we had to appeal to the rest of the world for help, and India stepped forward.

“There are long and deep ties between us and India, which means that we should step up and provide more equipment, more support.”

Speaking to Sky News, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said “we’re doing everything that our Indian friends need in their hour of need”.

“I recently spoke to foreign ninister Jaishankar, my opposite number there, and we said that we’ll do whatever we can, whatever they ask for.

“I do think it’s important with these emergency packages, you listen very carefully to the Indian authorities and see that we’re giving them what they need so we’ve given them oxygen concentrators, we’ve given them ventilators, we’re going to be sending out another package of a thousand ventilators very shortly.”

Downing Street also hailed the response of the British people to India’s plight, praising the “huge numbers” of businesses, civil society groups and members of the public who have helped.

The British Asian Trust has launched the “Oxygen for India” emergency appeal.

The drive, which is raising money for oxygen concentrators for Indian hospitals and has been personally backed by Prince Charles, has raised more than £1.5m in the last week.

Virgin Atlantic, working in conjunction with Khalsa Aid, flew 200 boxes of oxygen concentrators to Delhi on Saturday.

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