Britain will ship 1,000 ventilators for use in hospitals in India and have set up a clinical taskforce to provide medical advice in the raging battle against COVID-19. Boris Johnson has told his counterparts in New Delhi that the British people “will always be there for India in its time of need”. India is currently at the epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic and a record number of deaths were reported on Sunday.
A further 3,689 deaths were recorded in the past 24 hours and 392,488 new COVID-19 cases.
On Saturday, an all-time high of 401,993 new cases was confirmed across the country.
Hospitals and crematoriums have been overwhelmed with in excess of 300,000 infections confirmed for 10 successive days.
The UK will deliver 1,000 ventilators from its surplus stocks and is in addition to the 200 ventilators, 495 oxygen concentrators and 3 oxygen generation units already announced last week.
Virgin Atlantic flew 200 boxes of oxygen concentrators to Delhi on Saturday.
The UK airline will also free up cargo space for further medical supplies on six flights scheduled for next week.
Many countries around the world have sent aid to India as the country is one of the largest manufacturers of vaccines and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
Millions of jabs are being produced by India’s Serum Institute and will be distributed to the world at cost through COVAX programme.
Last year, India sent the UK 11 million face masks and 3 million packets of paracetamol.
England’s Chief Medical Officer, Chris Whitty and Chief Scientific Adviser, Patrick Vallance have been in contact with their Indian counterparts to provide advice, insight and expertise on the new COVID-19 variants.
NHS England is also creating a clinical advisory group led by Chief People Officer Prerana Isaar to support India’s Covid response.
On Tuesday, Mr Johnson will hold a virtual meeting with Indian Prime Minister Modi to discuss deepening cooperation between the two countries.
The UK Prime Minister was forced to cancel his re-scheduled trip to India last month, amid the rising number of coronavirus infections.
Mr Johnson said: ”The terrible images we have seen in India in recent weeks are all the more powerful because of the close and enduring connection between the people of the UK and India.
“This virus attacks all of us and in the battle against coronavirus, we’re all on the same side.
“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 on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab added UK would “look very carefully” at any request from India for vaccines.