UK aid flown to India to help with Covid-19 crisis

Life-saving medical equipment has been flown to India from Scotland and Wales to help the country deal with its Covid-19 crisis.

One hundred oxygen concentrators and 40 Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) ventilators supplied by the Scottish Government arrived on Friday night and will be distributed by the Indian Red Cross.

The devices can be used in hospitals, intensive care wards or other locations and are ideally suited to treat Covid-19 patients when there are constraints on medical gas infrastructure supply.

A Welsh Government and NHS Wales delivery of 638 oxygen concentrators and 351 ventilators arrived in Delhi over Wednesday and Thursday to be distributed by the Indian Red Cross.

Humza Yousaf
Scotland’s Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said the situation in India is a human tragedy (Jane Barlow/PA)

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) worked with the devolved administrations to help arrange for the crucial oxygen-providing kit to be distributed to where it is most needed.

Scotland’s Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said: “The coronavirus situation in India is a human tragedy. We are working with the other UK nations to help tackle the crisis by providing equipment that can be used immediately to save lives.

“Solidarity with other countries remains of key importance throughout this global pandemic and we will continue to make contributions within the international community, while tackling Covid-19 here in Scotland.

“There are a number of ways to donate to the response effort, including the British Asian Trust’s ‘Oxygen for India’ Emergency Appeal, and the Disasters Emergency Committee, which has extended its Coronavirus Appeal to include India.”

The assistance package comes from surplus stocks across the UK nations based on the needs identified by the Indian Government.

The operation is being funded by the FCDO.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said: “The UK, Scottish and Welsh Governments are working together to support India in its struggle against Covid.

“Our contribution of more oxygen concentrators and ventilators will save lives – and help our Indian friends overcome the virus.”

Welsh Government Health Minister Eluned Morgan said: “Covid-19 is a global emergency and as such it is right that we are part of the global response, supporting other nations.

“We have worked closely with the UK Government and the Government of India on the logistics and arranged for supplies of ventilators and oxygen concentrators to be transported to India and distributed to the hospitals where they are needed most.”

Oxygen concentrators are machines that take in room air, made up of oxygen, nitrogen and a small amount of carbon dioxide and remove the nitrogen from the air by passing it through special filters to create oxygen that can be delivered to patients through tubing.

Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is a type of non-invasive ventilation that keeps the airways open and aids oxygenation.

This is the latest assistance package to arrive from the UK.

The first delivery from the UK in late April provided 200 ventilators and 495 oxygen concentrators.

Earlier this month, the world’s biggest cargo plane flew over from Belfast with three surplus 18-tonne oxygen generators supplied by the Department for Health (Northern Ireland) plus a further 1,000 ventilators offered by the Department of Health and Social Care.