Kuwait sends 215 MT of oxygen, ready to supply 1,400 MT in all, says envoy
Kuwait has shipped 215 tonnes of liquid oxygen on four ships that are expected to begin arriving in India from Saturday, and stands ready to provide up to 1,400 tonnes over the next three weeks to help address a severe shortage across the country.
The Indian Navy has so far deployed nine warships to ferry liquid oxygen containers, concentrators and medical supplies from different countries, and three of these vessel are bringing in oxygen from Kuwait.
“The three Indian Navy warships and a large commercial vessel are bringing in a total of 215 tonnes of medical liquid oxygen. They are set to begin arriving in ports in Mumbai and Gujarat from Saturday,” Kuwaiti ambassador Jasem Ibrahem Al Najem said.
“But this will not be the only shipment. The sea bridge that has been established will continue and the Indian Navy ships will go back to be refilled. Kuwait will provide 1,400 tonnes of oxygen in three weeks,” he said.
India has recorded more than 350,000 coronavirus infections a day over the past week, and the massive surge has stretched resources at healthcare facilities in many cities. The external affairs ministry has identified liquid oxygen and oxygen generation plants as the focus of efforts to source equipment and supplies from abroad.
An Indian warship brought in about 40 tonnes of liquid oxygen from Bahrain this week and more supplies are expected from Qatar and Singapore, though the supplies from Kuwait are expected to be the largest in volume.
Al Najem explained that Kuwait has one of the largest companies producing medical oxygen in the region and its daily output is almost 200 tonnes a day. “We provide liquid oxygen to countries such as Iraq, Jordan and Saudia Arabia. When we saw the need for oxygen in a friendly country such as India, we decided to support India as part of collective efforts to fight the global pandemic,” he said.
Besides the liquid oxygen, a Kuwaiti Air Force aircraft transported 40 tonnes of support, including 282 oxygen cylinders and 60 oxygen concentrators, to New Delhi on Tuesday.
The commercial vessel, MV Capt Kattelmann, left Kuwait’s Al-Shuaiba port with 75 tonnes of liquid oxygen and 1,000 oxygen cylinders on Wednesday and is set to arrive in India on May 10. On the same day, INS Kolkata left with 40 tonnes of liquid oxygen, 200 oxygen cylinders, oxygen concentrators and other essential material and is expected to arrive in India on Saturday.
Two more warships, INS Kochi and INS Tabar, departed from Kuwait’s Shuwaikh port with a total of 100 tonnes of liquid oxygen and 1,400 oxygen cylinders and are expected to arrive in Mumbai on May 11.
“India was with us during the initial stages of the pandemic and deployed a military medical rapid response team in April last year, and it also supplied 200,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccine,” Al Najem said.
“This is more than about the traditional friendly relations between the two countries. The two sides stand together during all problems and crises,” he said.
Al Najem also said the Indian community in Kuwait, which numbers about a million, is safe. “This is the third largest Indian expatriate community in the region, after the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, and includes not just workers but also their families,” he said.
About one million people have been vaccinated so far in Kuwait, out of the total population of 3.5 million that includes 1.5 million Kuwaitis. Al Najem said the country is using the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines and is looking at more sources for doses in view of the global vaccine supply shortages.