Qatar and Kuwait have sent 400 oxygen cylinders and 47 oxygen concentrators on Indian naval ships to help the country with an alarming medical shortage as it tackles its deadliest wave yet.
The ship—also carrying 40 metric tonnes (MT) of liquid medical oxygen provided by Kuwait— reached the Indian port of New Mangalore in Karnataka.
“Establishing a sea-bridge through Operation Samudra Setu-II to augment our oxygen availability,” Indian ministry of external affairs official spokesperson, Arindam Bagchi said in a tweet on Monday.
Establishing a sea-bridge through Operation Samudra Setu-II to augment our O2 availability. INS Kolkata arrives in New Mangalore Port (India). 3rd INS ship to arrive today. 40 MT of liquid medical O2, 400 O2 cylinders & 47 O2 concentrators from Kuwait & Qatar onboard. pic.twitter.com/f4ArEDg8GL
— Arindam Bagchi (@MEAIndia) May 10, 2021
Last week, Indian Ambassador Dr. Deepak Mittal said Indians in Qatar dispatched 200 cylinders of 42 litres each and 43 oxygen concentrators via an Indian Navy ship to help those in need back home.
“A special thanks for the generous donation to the Indian community in Kuwait for 200 oxygen cylinders and four oxygen concentrators, and to the community in Qatar for 200 oxygen cylinders and 43 oxygen concentrators,” Bagchi said.
In an effort to meet the country’s oxygen needs, the Indian navy launched ‘Operation Samudra Setu-II,’ deploying seven ships— ‘INS Kolkata, Kochi, Talwar, Tabar, Trikand, Jalashwa and Airavat’ — for medical aid, especially oxygen-cryogenic containers.
Aside from the shipment that has already arrived, a second ship departed Qatar a few days ago containing 232 oxygen cylinders, of 42-litre and 50-litre capacity, provided through donations by Indian expatriates.
Qatar’s role in helping India
In the last few weeks, Qatar has played an essential role in helping India tackle its deadliest Covid-19 wave, said Ambassador of India to Qatar Dr. Deepak Mittal.
The country has become an important hub for organising logistics for medical assistance from all over the world to India, the latest of which was a 300 tonne aid by Qatar Airways.
The national carrier is also preparing to dispatch 1,200 metric tonnes of medical oxygen to the country.
“Following the directive of Amir H H Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Qatar Fund for Development (QFFD), is working on supplying more medical assistance as per the requirements in India to fight COVID-19,” said the ambassador.
At a press conference, the official said India is in urgent need of liquid medical oxygen, oxygen cylinders, oxygen concentrators, oxygen generating plants, Remdesivir medicines among others.
“Two cryogenic tankers are expected to leave from Qatar carrying 40 metric tonnes of liquid medical exigencies. The government of France arranged the cryogenic tankers. Gasal company of Qatar is filling the tankers with liquid medical oxygen and Indian Navy ship will carry this to India,” said Dr. Mittal.
He added that multiple shipments are expected to depart Qatar within the next months, including around 1,200 metric tonnes of liquid medial oxygen.
“It is very substantive support from government of Qatar. Qatar is emerging as an important hub for transporting logistics for coordinating international assistance of medical supplies to India. In India, we deeply appreciate and value it which we are receiving from the international community especially in Qatar,” he added.
Three Qatar Airways Cargo Boeing 777 freighters carrying over 300 tonnes of medical supplies departed to India earlier this month to help them tackle the Covid-19 crisis in the country.
The aid was collected from around the world as part of Covid-19 relief efforts as India battles its worst Covid wave, which has so far led to hundreds of thousands of fatalities, many of which due to lack of supplies and hospital space.
The three flights departed for Bengaluru, Mumbai and New Delhi as part of Qatar Airways Cargo’s WeQare initiative, the airline announced.
Three #QatarAirwaysCargo Boeing 777 freighters departed to India today carrying approximately 300 tonnes of medical supplies from around the world to support COVID-19 relief efforts. The three flights departed one after the other bound for Bengaluru, Mumbai and New Delhi. pic.twitter.com/rROBGCpP7n
— Qatar Airways (@qatarairways) May 3, 2021
“Having seen with great sorrow the impact this further wave of Covid-19 infections has had on people in India, we knew we had to be part of the global effort to support the valiant health care workers in the country,” said Akbar Al Baker, Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive.
“We are in a unique position to offer immediate humanitarian support through the provision of aircraft to transport much-needed medical supplies, as well as coordinating logistical arrangements. We hope today’s shipment and further shipments in the weeks to come will help ease the burden on local medical workers and provide relief to the impacted communities in India.”
“This is not only three planes that are going to deliver aid goods to India but we are very open to entire world to send aids to India which will be carried free of charge by Qatar Airways,” he said while talking to Sky News.
“It is a dire situation in India. I think the entire world today is unprepared for what is unfolding not only in India but in many countries and it is a duty of humanity to help such people in need especially to the countries that are inundated with the pressure on their medial system.”
Last month, India‘s Prime Minister Narendra Modi thanked Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani for the Gulf state’s support to Mumbai as it faces the world’s worst Covid-19 outbreak.
“Had a good conversation with His Highness @TamimBinHamad, Amir of Qatar today. I thanked His Highness for the solidarity and offer of support in India’s fight against Covid-19. I also conveyed our gratitude for the care being provided to the Indian community in Qatar,” the Indian PM said.
In a phone call, Sheikh Tamim said Qatar would stand in firm solidarity with Indians as they continue to face the challenges of the second coronavirus wave. He also expressed his sincere condolences to the thousands of victims, the Amiri Diwan announced.
The World Health Organisation described the situation in India as ‘beyond heartbreaking’ with reports of people dying on streets outside overwhelmed hospitals due to oxygen shortages and a lack of medical supplies.
India’s ‘deadly’ strain
Last month, India reported a peak of 352,991 Covid-19 infections, and for days in a row continued to break its own record of highest number of daily cases.
Currently, Indian authorities have reported over 22.7 million total infections and over 246,000 deaths, but experts believe the death toll number could be significantly higher, according to CNN.
The overwhelming situation had led to bodies being cremated in makeshift facilities at parks and parking lots in some of the worst-hit cities in India.
The South Asian country has now urged the international community to provide aid to help it deal with the crisis.
A new “double-mutant” strain of the virus has also come out of the crisis-stricken country, prompting authorities in Qatar to impose mandatory quarantine for travellers arriving from India as well as five other Asian countries.