Ventilators are among 600 pieces of life-saving medical equipment being sent from the UK to India as the country battles a surge in COVID-19 cases.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has vowed to “stand side by side” with India as it struggles with its highest numbers of new daily coronavirus cases to date since the pandemic began.
On Sunday – for the fourth day in a row – India set a new global record for daily COVID infections.
India’s health ministry reported 349,691 cases on Sunday, bringing the total to 16.96 million, second only to the US.
The surge in cases has been accompanied by severe shortages of medical oxygen in some areas, with hospitals warning they could run out within hours.
Following discussions with Indian ministers, the UK is sending a first shipment of supplies on Sunday – due to arrive in New Delhi in the early hours of Tuesday – with further shipments to follow.
In total, nine airline container loads of supplies – including 495 oxygen concentrators, 120 non-invasive ventilators and 20 manual ventilators – will be sent to India from the UK this week.
Mr Johnson, who had been due to visit India this week but cancelled his trip amid the surge in COVID cases, said: “We stand side by side with India as a friend and partner during what is a deeply concerning time in the fight against COVID-19.
“Vital medical equipment, including hundreds of oxygen concentrators and ventilators, is now on its way from the UK to India to support efforts to prevent the tragic loss of life from this terrible virus.
“We will continue to work closely with the Indian government during this difficult time and I’m determined to make sure that the UK does everything it can to support the international community in the global fight against pandemic.”
Oxygen and medicine supplies are also set to be sent to India from the EU, after European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said she was “alarmed” by the situation.