India receives vital oxygen assistance from abroad when the number of deaths reaches a new record

More urgent medical help from foreign donors to alleviate a severe oxygen deficiency arrived in India on Sunday, when Covid-19 deaths in the South Asian nation rose to a new record.

India sets almost daily records of new infections and deaths as the virus crisis engulfs congested hospitals in cities and spreads to rural areas.

The country of 1.3 billion reported 3,689 deaths on Sunday – the highest single increase to date in the pandemic, to take the total charge to more than 215,000.

Just under 400,000 infections were added, which resulted in the total number of cases over 19.5 million.

The latest figures came as medical equipment, including oxygen generation facilities, flew to the capital New Delhi from France and Germany as part of a huge international effort.

“We are here to provide assistance that … will save lives,” said Germany’s Ambassador to India Walter J. Lindner as 120 fans arrived late on Saturday.

“Out there, the hospitals are full. People sometimes die in front of the hospitals. They have no more oxygen. Sometimes (they die) in their cars.”

French Ambassador Emmanuel Lenain said his country wanted to show solidarity with India.

“The epidemic is still going on in one country. The world will not be safe until we are all safe. So it is urgent,” he said early Sunday after the delivery of eight oxygen-generating plants and dozens of fans from France.

SOS requires oxygen

There is a growing fear of the influx of viruses in rural areas where the health infrastructure is already uneven and limited.

Delhi hospitals have continued to issue SOS calls for oxygen on social media, with the latest appeal from a children’s hospital on Twitter on Sunday.

The objection came a day after up to a dozen patients died at a Delhi hospital due to lack of oxygen, local media reported.

India on Saturday opened its vaccination to all adults, but supplies are starting to run out and only online registrations are allowed for those under 45 years of age.

“It’s a necessity now. We see so many people testing positive,” computer scientist Megha Srivastava, 35, told AFP outside a Delhi vaccination center as she waited for her shot.

“We’re going 20 miles away because it was the only place that was available.”

Experts have called on the government to allow more flexibility in vaccine development, especially in poorer rural areas where there is lower internet penetration.

“We should get enough vaccines and then plan from above … the primary health center,” Bangalore-based public health expert Hemant Shewade told AFP.

“Bring vaccines to the people in the way we have carried out our polio and measles campaigns.”


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