'Over 40 countries offered assistance to India'

Over 40 countries offered assistance to India

New Delhi: Over 40 countries have committed to provide India urgently-required medical supplies like oxygen-related equipment and critical medicines to help it deal with an unprecedented second wave of the Coronavirus pandemic, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said on Thursday.

At a media briefing, he said India is looking at getting in the immediate future around 550 oxygen-generating plants, 4,000 oxygen concentrators, over 10,000 oxygen cylinders and 17 cryogenic oxygen tanks, some of which have already arrived.

"We are facing an unprecedented second wave of the pandemic. As of now, we have over three million active cases. This has obviously put considerable pressure on our healthcare system; on the capacities and resources that we have," he said.

Shringla said the government, in many senses, has been very quick to try and make an assessment of where it has capacity shortfall and based on some of these considerations, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has been trying to find the most effective means of addressing the resource constraints.

Late last night, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar had a video conference with the Indian heads of missions all over the world to apprise them about the domestic requirements in view of the situation, he said.

Shringla said certain areas were prioritised which included procurement of liquid oxygen as well as equipment that produces oxygen, oxygen generators, oxygen concentrators, transportation equipment for oxygen. He said there has been an outpouring of solidarity and assistance to India.

"Over 40 countries have actually committed to provide us with many of the items that we need urgently," he said.

The foreign secretary also said that India is looking at procuring 400,000 units of antiviral medication Remdesivir from Egypt besides attempting to get it from countries like the United Arab Emirates, Bangladesh and Uzbekistan.

"International cooperation is a very vital part of our meeting and bridging the immediate requirements that we have. Obviously we are making every effort to step up our own capacities," he added.

Pharma major Gilead Sciences has already offered India 450,000 doses of Remdesivir while the government is looking at getting around 300,000 doses of Favipiravir from Russia and the UAE.

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