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Bundeswehr plane reaches India with COVID aid

May 1, 2021

A German military aircraft delivered a team of medical experts and 120 ventilators to Delhi. India's health care system has become overwhelmed in recent weeks after record numbers of COVID cases were reported.

German military plane
The military plane carried 120 ventilators and a team to run mobile oxygen production unitsImage: Thorsten Weber/Bundeswehr/picture alliance

A German military aircraft with 120 ventilators reached India on Saturday, as plans were being made for additional flights with more supplies to help India cope with the catastrophic effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

The aircraft, which took off from Cologne, brought a team of 13 experts who will help set up and operate mobile oxygen production units over the next two weeks.

The medical personnel will be on hand to assist the international humanitarian movement Red Cross in efforts to aid the ailing nation of 1.3 billion people. India has become overwhelmed with coronavirus cases in recent weeks, daily registering hundreds of thousands of infections and thousands of deaths.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said a "deep friendship" connects India and Germany and that "Germany will send urgently needed goods to provide care to the patients."

International aid in the form of oxygen and other medical supplies has been arriving in India over the last few days to relieve critical shortages. Germany is providing €50 million ($60 million) of goods and is one of a number of countries that has pledged to help.

Vaccine drive struggles to take flight

India registered a grim global record of 401,993 daily coronavirus cases on Saturday as it struggled to carry out the biggest round of its vaccination drive.

The new infections took the country's caseload past 19 million while its death toll now stands at nearly 212,000 after 3,523 lives were lost to the virus in the past 24 hours, government data showed.

Hit by a ferocious second wave of the pandemic, India is the first country to cross 400,000 daily cases after it reported over 300,000 daily infections for nine days in a row.

As the surge overwhelmed hospitals and cremation sites, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday evening held a Cabinet meeting to discuss measures to save the health infrastructure. The proposals include adding hospital beds, as well as ways of tackling shortages of medical oxygen and antiviral drugs.

jsi/sms (AFP, dpa, EPD)