China: We’re ready to provide outbreak-control help to India
China on Thursday said it was ready to provide outbreak prevention support and medical supplies to India as the country faces a vicious second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, putting its health infrastructure under severe strain.
India reported 314,835 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, the highest single-day tally recorded anywhere in the world since the pandemic started last year. India’s death toll from the disease rose 2,104 in the same time period.
India’s tally of confirmed cases is now nearly 16 million, second only to America’s count of almost 32 million, according to the US-based Johns Hopkins University’s Covid-19 tracker.
Responding to a query from Chinese state media on Thursday on the pandemic situation in India, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said Beijing was ready to help.
“The Covid-19 epidemic is the common enemy of all mankind. The international community needs to unite as one to fight against the epidemic,” Wang said.
“The Chinese side notes that the epidemic situation in India is severe and there is a temporary shortage of epidemic prevention and medical supplies. We are ready to provide necessary support and assistance to India so that they can control the epidemic,” Wang added.
It could not be immediately ascertained if Beijing has officially extended the offer of help to New Delhi.
HT learnt that while Indian private companies have been trying to source supplies from China, they have been hit by a sudden escalation of air freight costs over the last few days.
Last year, India was among the countries to help Beijing with medical supplies during the time the Covid-19 outbreak was at its most severe in China.
India had provided 15 tonnes of medical supplies comprising masks, gloves and emergency medical equipment at a cost of about ₹2.11 crore to China at that time.
In a written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha in March last year, external affairs minister of state V Muraleedharan had said the medical supplies included 100,000 surgical masks, 500,000 pairs of surgical gloves, 4,000 N-95 masks, 75 infusion pumps, 30 enteral feeding pumps, and 21 defibrillators.
The supplies, flown to China in an India Air Force C-17 flight, were handed over to a Hubei charity federation in the Chinese city of Wuhan, the first epicentre of the pandemic where the virus had emerged in December 2019.
In February 2020, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had written to President Xi Jinping, extending New Delhi’s assistance to fight the outbreak.
Soon after, China’s ambassador to India Sun Weidong had appreciated the support and solidarity that India had extended to China in its fight against the coronavirus.
China had returned the favour in April, dispatching dozens of aircraft with Covid-related medical supplies when the first wave of the pandemic became severe in India.
India-bound flights had taken off from Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Xi’an and Hong Kong, carrying 390 tonnes of medical supplies.
Soon after, however, ties plunged to its worst in decades following military friction along the disputed border in eastern Ladakh. Nearly a year later, the two countries are still grappling to completely defuse the situation.