Irish plans to send Covid-19 aid to India are at an “advanced stage,” according to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
A DFA spokesman told The Irish Times that Irish officials worked throughout the weekend on efforts to deliver support to the subcontinent, which is currently facing record Covid-19 infections and deaths.
DFA staff were working with the health department, the HSE and the EU Civilian Protection Mechanism to plan how best to send India support “given the urgency of the pandemic situation”.
“These efforts are at an advanced stage and we will soon provide a formal announcement,” the spokesman said, adding that the department was in contact with the relevant Indian authorities.
Earlier on Sunday, Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney told RTÉ’s This Week programme that the Government was “assessing” what it could share with India with a particular focus on oxygen and ventilators.
Mr Coveney also said it was likely India would be added to the State’s mandatory hotel quarantine list very shortly.
There are many Indian people working in our health service. India is currently facing a terrible second wave causing suffering beyond our comprehension. We are assessing a plan to provide oxygen and ventillators to India working with the EU 🇮🇪🇪🇺🇮🇳❤️
— Leo Varadkar (@LeoVaradkar) April 25, 2021
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar tweeted on Sunday that India was “facing a terrible second wave causing suffering beyond our comprehension”.
“There are many Indian people working in our health service. India is currently facing a terrible second wave causing suffering beyond our comprehension,” he said.
“We are assessing a plan to provide oxygen and ventillators to India working with the EU.”
It comes as the European Commission announced it was also planning to send oxygen and medicine to the country following a request from Delhi.
Britain, Germany and the United States have also pledged to send urgent medical aid to help battle the crisis overwhelming India's hospitals.
'Extreme crisis situation'
The country's new coronavirus infections hit a record peak for a fifth day on Monday, with infections in the last 24 hours rising to 352,991.
Overcrowded hospitals in Delhi and elsewhere are turning away patients after running out of supplies of medical oxygen and beds.
"Currently the hospital is in beg-and-borrow mode and it is an extreme crisis situation," said a spokesman for the Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in the capital, New Delhi.
A blaze in a hospital in the western city of Surat killed four Covid-19 victims on Sunday, municipal health official Ashish Naik told Reuters partner ANI in the latest of a series of similar recent tragedies.
Earlier, India's prime minister Narendra Modi had urged all citizens to get vaccinated and exercise caution, while hospitals and doctors put out urgent notices saying they were unable to cope with the rush of patients.
In some of the worst-hit cities, including New Delhi, bodies were being burnt in makeshift facilities offering mass services.
My heart breaks for all my friends and family in Delhi and India going through this hell
Television channel NDTV broadcast images of three health workers in the eastern state of Bihar pulling a body along the ground on its way to cremation, as stretchers ran short.
"If you've never been to a cremation, the smell of death never leaves you," Vipin Narang, a political science professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the United States, said on Twitter.
"My heart breaks for all my friends and family in Delhi and India going through this hell."
On Sunday, US president Joe Biden said the United States would send raw materials for vaccines, medical equipment and protective gear to India. Germany joined a growing list of countries pledging to send supplies.
India, with a population of 1.3 billion, has an official tally of 17.31 million infections and 195,123 deaths, after 2,812 deaths overnight, health ministry data showed, although health experts say infections and deaths are probably far higher.