Covid-19 in India

French and German aid arrives in Covid-stricken India, Delhi extends lockdown

Medical supplies and relied materials are loaded into a cargo plane to India at Roissy airport, north of Paris, France, Saturday, May 1, 2021.
Medical supplies and relied materials are loaded into a cargo plane to India at Roissy airport, north of Paris, France, Saturday, May 1, 2021. AP - Lewis Joly

International medical aid continues to arrive in Covid-stricken India, which reported over three thousand deaths from the virus on Sunday. France and Germany have sent oxygen-generation plants and dozens of ventilators to help hospitals overwhelmed with ill patients.

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The country of 1.3 billion reported 3,689 deaths on Sunday -- the highest single-day rise yet in the pandemic, to take the overall toll to more than 215,000.

Just under 400,000 infections were added, bringing the total number of cases past 19.5 million.

The latest figures came as medical equipment, including oxygen-generation plants, was flown into the capital New Delhi from France and Germany as part of a huge international effort.

"We are here because we are bringing help that... will save lives," Germany's ambassador to India, Walter J. Lindner, said as 120 ventilators arrived late Saturday.

"Out there the hospitals are full. People are sometimes dying in front of the hospitals. They have no more oxygen. Sometimes (they are dying) in their cars."

French ambassador Emmanuel Lenain said his country wanted to show solidarity with India.

"The epidemic is still going on in one country. The world won't be safe until we are all safe. So it's a matter of urgency," he said early Sunday following the delivery of eight oxygen-generation plants and dozens of ventilators from France.

The UK also said Sunday it was sending an extra 1,000 oxygen ventilators, on top of the 495 oxygen concentrators and 200 ventilators sent earlier.

Delhi renews lockdown

The nation's worst-hit city, Delhi, reported just over 25,000 cases on Saturday as it extended its own lockdown by another week.

Hospitals in Delhi have continued to issue SOS calls for oxygen on social media, with the latest appeal posted by a children's hospital on Twitter on Sunday.

The plea came a day after up to a dozen patients died at a Delhi hospital amid an oxygen shortage, local media reported.

India on Saturday opened up its inoculation drive to all adults, but supplies are running low and only online enrolments are allowed for those aged under 45.

Experts have called on the government to allow more flexibility in India's vaccine rollout, particularly in poorer rural areas where there is lower internet penetration.

"We should procure sufficient vaccines, then plan bottom-up through... the primary health centre level," Bangalore-based public health expert Hemant Shewade told AFP.

"Take vaccines to the people the way we have implemented our polio and measles campaigns."

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