NEW DELHI: Saudi Arabia on Sunday shipped 80 metric tons of oxygen to India to alleviate acute shortages of the lifesaving gas due to the record surge in coronavirus infections in India.
On Sunday India reported almost 350,000 corona cases.
The Saudi supply of oxygen has been in cooperation with the Indian conglomerate, Adani Group, and the British chemical multinational, Linde.
“The Embassy of India is proud to partner with Adani Group and M/s Linde in shipping much-needed 80 metric tons of liquid oxygen to India”, the Indian Embassy in Riyadh tweeted on Sunday.
It thanked Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Health “for all its help, support and cooperation.”
Adani Group Chairman Gautam Adani tweeted: “The first shipment of 4 ISO cryogenic tanks with 80 tons of liquid oxygen is now on its way from Dammam (port in Saudi Arabia) to Mundra (port in western state of Gujarat).”
The second pandemic wave has hit India very hard and led to a daily surge of over 300,000 cases. Many Indian cities, including the capital New Delhi, have been overwhelmed by patients which has resulted in shortages of hospital beds and oxygen causing thousands of deaths throughout the country.
The shortage of oxygen in hospitals has led to the death of nearly 50 people in two hospitals in the capital since Thursday.
Delhi’s requirements come to 700 metric tons of oxygen per day but it is receiving only 380 which has forced many hospitals in the city to operate far below capacity.
“We have the capacity to accommodate 260 patients in the hospital but the irregular and uncertain supply of oxygen has forced us to under-utilize our capacity,” Dr. P.K. Bhardwaj, the director of the Delhi-based Saroj multispeciality hospital, told Arab News.
The medical director of the central Delhi-based Moolchand Medcity Hospital, Dr. Sudha Handa, told Arab News it was “on tenterhooks all the time regarding the oxygen supply.”
The shortage has also been felt in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh which is the second worst affected state in India with over 37,000 cases on Sunday and over 200 fatalities. The western Indian state of Gujarat, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state, is also reeling under an acute shortage of oxygen; hospitals in some of the state’s major cities have had to refuse patients who were in desperate need of both beds and oxygen.
To respond to the crisis, on Friday India launched an “oxygen maitri” or “oxygen friendship” operation to reach out to various countries in order to procure the lifesaving gas.
On Saturday, the Indian Air Force brought four cryogenic tanks to be used for transporting oxygen from Singapore.
The Indian Home Ministry on Friday said that it was in talks for the import of high-capacity oxygen-carrying tankers from Singapore and the UAE.
Former ambassador and international affairs expert, Anil Trigunayat, has expressed his appreciation for Saudi Arabia’s gesture toward India in crisis. “We greatly appreciate this friendly gesture from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” Trigunayat told Arab News.
“Saudi Arabia is a strategic partner of India and as a friend, it has risen to the occasion when India is experiencing an unprecedented surge in COVID-19 which has stressed India’s medical infrastructure because of a shortage in oxygen supplies,” he said.
“India also stands by all its friends in their times of crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic is one in which the world has to take a global stance which both Delhi and Riyadh worked on during the Saudi Presidency of the G20.”