Middle East rallies to assist India amid Covid-19 crisis
Egypt, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE were among the dozens of countries to send emergency aid to India, as the country faces a crippling wave of Covid-19 infections amid shortages of oxygen supplies and drugs.
Aid has been coming to India from over 40 countries, Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said on 29 April, via direct financial assistance, as well as shipments of oxygen and medical supplies.
The Emirates News Agency WAM cited Shringla as mentioning help from the UAE, Bahrain, Qatar and Saudi Arabia from the Gulf.
It mentioned "a special cargo flight from the UAE with ventilators and Favipiravir medicines [an anti-viral medicine for treatment of Covid-19]".
Shringla also said India is also in talks to obtain Remdesivir from the UAE, an anti-viral medicine.
"Wherever stocks are available, we are trying to contact them and trying to get it into our country at the earliest so that we can cover the short term gap," Shringla said.
The UAE has already sent 157 ventilators, 480 BiPAPs [non-invasive respiratory machines], and other medical supplies to India.
Qatar has been assisting by providing free shipping for 300 tons of medical aid and equipment from a global network of donors.
State owned-Qatar Airways has been taking goods from donors to India via Doha and has also promised to provide medical equipment of its own.
At the end of April, the Kuwaiti cabinet of ministers announced that Gulf state will immediately send oxygen and relief aid to India. Bahrain also has shipped out 40 metric tons (MT) of liquid oxygen on 1 May.
Saudi Arabia supplied India with 80 MT of oxygen, in cooperation with the Indian company Adani Group.
"Our relationship with Saudi Arabia is very strong. We are strategic partners and we do care for each other's concerns," Indian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Ausaf Sayeed told Arab News.
Egypt has also sent aid to India, with a shipment including 300 oxygen cylinders, 20 ventilators, 100 medical beds, 20 electrocardiographs, 30 defibrillators, 50 infusion pumps and 50 infusion syringes.
Egypt had faced its own devastating Covid-19 epidemic with shortages of medical equipment reported.
In order for help to reach hospitals quickly, India has made exemptions from taxes, custom duties, and other fees for the aid entering the country.
On 1 May, India counted more than 400,000 new daily cases, for over 15,000 new daily cases reported at the beginning of March, and more than 3,500 deaths.
Hospitals in the country of nearly 1.4 billion people are facing a chronic shortage of oxygen and beds.
Many people are resorting to makeshift facilities for mass burials and cremations as the country's funeral services are overwhelmed.