An oxygen tank is loaded into an aircraft to help hospitals in India running out of oxygen supplies amid the coronavirus outbreak, at the tarmac of Changi Airport in Singapore. (REUTERS PHOTO.)
An oxygen tank is loaded into an aircraft to help hospitals in India running out of oxygen supplies amid the coronavirus outbreak, at the tarmac of Changi Airport in Singapore. (REUTERS PHOTO.)

Canada, Norway, Singapore lend support to India amid Covid surge

Singapore, Canada and Norway have joined the list of countries that have announced support for India’s response to a devastating second wave of coronavirus infections that has hit healthcare facilities across the country
By Rezaul H Laskar, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON APR 29, 2021 03:13 AM IST

Singapore, Canada and Norway have joined the list of countries that have announced support for India’s response to a devastating second wave of coronavirus infections that has hit healthcare facilities across the country.

The Singapore government dispatched a consignment of 256 oxygen cylinders on two C-130 military transport aircraft to West Bengal. “Last yr, [India] helped the world and [Singapore] by exporting essential medicines & supplies. Now, we stand with [India] as you fight Covid,” Singapore high commissioner Simon Wong tweeted.

Singapore is among the first countries to send oxygen cylinders to India amid reports of a severe shortage of oxygen in several cities. The cylinders will support last mile oxygen delivery and more consignments are expected in the coming days.

In Singapore, second minister for foreign affairs Maliki Osman formally handed over the assistance to Indian high commissioner P Kumaran at Paya Lebar airbase. Maliki said Singaporeans stand in solidarity with the people of India in the fight against the pandemic.

“We have all witnessed in the past year how this pandemic is a trans-boundary threat. It gives no regard for country, nationality, or race. This is exactly why we must work collectively to support each other,” he said.

On Saturday, the Indian Air Force airlifted four cryogenic tanks from Changi airport that will be used to transport oxygen.

Canada announced that it is providing $10 million for humanitarian assistance to the Canadian Red Cross to support the Indian Red Cross Society’s response to the devastating situation in India. This contribution will support the procurement of essential supplies and medicines, including oxygen cylinders and ambulances, a statement from Canada’s foreign ministry read.

“Canada stands with the people of India as they go through these difficult times. This funding will help meet some of the most urgent medical needs like purchasing and distributing essential supplies as well as supporting vital blood and ambulance services,” Canada’s international development minister Karina Gould said.

Foreign minister Marc Garneau also spoke with his Indian counterpart S Jaishankar on Tuesday to convey Canada’s solidarity with the people of India, and said Canada is “exploring all options to support India’s urgent needs”.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau extended his support in a tweet. “Right now, the people of India are facing a tragic situation. To help with everything from ambulance services to buying personal protective equipment, we’re contributing $10 million to @IndianRedCross through @RedCrossCanada. We stand ready to donate extra medical supplies, too,” he said.

The Norwegian government announced a contribution of 20 million Norwegian Kroners ($2.4 million) to be channelled through the World Health Organization (WHO) and International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

The support will be used to scale up ambulance and blood donation services and medical helplines, buy equipment such as oxygen tanks for ambulances and procure hygiene products to migrant workers and other vulnerable groups.

Norwegian ambassador Hans Jacob Frydenlund said, “We stand with you in this time of crisis, with the hope that the second wave will recede soon.” The Norwegian business community in India is also preparing to help in the quickest way possible, he added.

Meanwhile, the UK announced that its second consignment of support materials will include three large oxygen generation units, each capable of producing 500 litres of oxygen a minute. The first consignment of British medical equipment arrived on Tuesday, and more will be delivered over the week.

The UK will supply a total of 495 oxygen concentrators and 200 ventilators from surplus stocks. The support was sent in response to a request from India and a pledge from Prime Minister Boris Johnson for the UK to do all it can to help, the British high commission said.

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