“For more than a million Britons with loved ones in India, this is a moment of fear and anxiety. The ties between our countries are woven into the fabric of this nation, something that through my own heritage I am personally and acutely aware of,” said Lisa Nandy, the UK’s Indian-origin shadow secretary of state for foreign affairs.
“Many Britons of Indian origin will have gone to work today, in our NHS and care homes, helping to carry us through this crisis while desperately worried about loved ones in India. We can and must do more,” said the MP for Wigan, as she tabled an urgent question in the House of Commons on the Covid-19 pandemic crisis in India this week.
While welcoming the shipment of life-saving equipment already sent to India, the shadow minister demanded a “clear plan of action” from the government to ramp up the delivery of vital equipment as India still needs oxygen cylinders, concentrators, ventilators and therapeutic drugs, especially Remdesivir.
“A year on from own crisis, it was India who stepped forward and approved the export of 3 million packets of paracetamol in an act of solidarity and friendship,” she pointed out, highlighting that the UK’s response to the current crisis would be the “true test” of the bond between the two nations.
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On behalf of the government’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), acknowledged the strong bond between the two countries and the role of the Indian diaspora.
Adams said: “There are many champions of constituents of Indian heritage in this House. I have been made aware of some incredible fundraising efforts across the country where there are large Indian diaspora people raising money through various means and its really heartwarming to see.
“The heartbreaking scenes in India have shocked us all. The pandemic has brought horrific human suffering and we send our solidarity and condolences to the Indian people at this difficult time.”
Several members of Parliament, including Conservative Party MP Gagan Mohindra and Labour’s Nav Mishra and Tan Dhesi, also spoke out passionately about the “heart breaking” impact of the second wave of the pandemic and worries for their own family as they called on the government to support India based on its requirements on the ground.
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The minister highlighted how Britain was the first country to send in life-saving supplies, of which 400 oxygen concentrators and ventilators will be available to be distributed across Indian hospitals this week.
Additionally, three oxygen generation units will be sent from surplus stocks in Northern Ireland, with each oxygen unit capable of producing 500 litres of oxygen per minute, enough for 50 people to use at a time. The mini “factories”, the size of shipping containers, have been organised to meet the ongoing massive demand for oxygen at Indian hospitals.
Adams said: “We stand with the Indian people in this hour of need. Taking our lead from what the Indian government advises is most useful.”