Health & Medical

Covid: UK sending 1,000 more ventilators to India

Covid: UK sending 1,000 more ventilators to India thumbnail
media captionDominic Raab: The British government would “co-operate closely with counterparts in India”

A further 1,000 ventilators will be sent to help coronavirus-hit India, the UK government has announced.

As India continues to report soaring infections and record deaths, the UK’s chief medical and scientific officers have also spoken with their counterparts there to offer advice.

The latest assistance is on top of a package of support announced last week.

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

He added: “I am deeply moved by the surge of support the British people have provided to the people of India and am pleased the UK government has been able to play our part in providing life-saving assistance.”

No 10 said Mr Johnson will hold a virtual meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday to discuss deepening cooperation between the UK and India

India recorded its highest daily coronavirus death toll since the pandemic began – 3,689 – and has become the first country to register more than 400,000 new cases in a single day.

Mr Modi met his health minister on Sunday morning to review the crisis.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab earlier said the UK would “look very carefully” at any request for vaccines from India.

Some five million Oxford-AstraZeneca doses, manufactured in India and destined for the UK, have been held there while safety checks are carried out.

One scientific adviser to the government, Prof Peter Openshaw, suggested it would be appropriate to allow India to use these doses.

Mr Raab told BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show: “The Indian relationship is very important to us and we’d obviously want to co-operate very closely together.”

Shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy said the UK “can and should do more” to help India.

She told Sky News: “There are long and deep ties between us and India, which mean that we should step up and provide more equipment, more support.”

Britain’s Indian communities, businesses and charities have led appeals for emergency oxygen and donations, as many hospitals in India see supplies run low.

The government announced last week it would send 200 ventilators, 495 oxygen concentrators and three oxygen generation units – with the first shipment arriving on Tuesday.

The UK’s chief medical adviser Chris Whitty and the chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance spoke to colleagues in India to provide “advice, insight and expertise”, the government said.

Downing Street confirmed NHS England will also establish a clinical advisory group led by its chief people officer Prerana Issar to support India’s Covid response.

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