Canada preparing to send COVID-19 medical equipment from emergency stockpile to India

Tamara Dus injects health-care worker Cecile Lasco with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in Toronto on Monday. Because there was a problem with the needle's connection to the vial, some of the vaccine leaked out. PHOTO BY CARLOS OSORIO /REUTERS

As India faces down a devastating second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Canadian government says it has identified medical equipment from its emergency stockpile that it is prepared to send overseas to help.

In an email to Global News on Sunday, a spokesperson for Health Canada said the Canadian government has “identified medical equipment that could be donated from its emergency stockpile, such as ventilators.”

READ MORE: A look at why India’s COVID-19 data is vastly undercounted

“The Government is working closely with Indian officials to identify specific needs on the ground, and how best Canada can assist,” the email read.

However, Health Canada said the volumes identified for donation will “not compromise continued efforts to support the COVID-19 response in Canada.”

It was not immediately clear which supplies will be sent, or when.

However, Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced on Saturday that the province would be sending 3,000 ventilators to India.

“Ontario will always stand shoulder to shoulder with our friends,” he wrote in a tweet.

In a statement emailed to Global News, a spokesperson for the Canadian Red Cross said at this time the organization is not “facilitating the direct deployment of medical supplies to India.”

“However, the Red Cross has opened an appeal to provide Canadians with the opportunity to support the Indian Red Cross in their delivery of assistance to people affected or at risk of being affected by COVID-19.”

The Canadian government has also pledged $10 million in humanitarian assistance to the Canadian Red Cross to support the Indian Red Cross Society’s response in India.

“Canada’s contribution will support the procurement of essential supplies and medicines, including oxygen cylinders for clinics and ambulances,” a spokesperson with Global Affairs Canada said in an email.

Announcing the aid last week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said news from hospitals in India that are “unable to keep up with the number of patients” is “heartbreaking.”

He said Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau had spoken with members of the Indian government to determine Canada can help.

READ MORE: What Canada can learn from India’s COVID-19 crisis

The devastating second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in India has overwhelmed the country’s hospitals, morgues and crematoriums.

The country added 392,488 new infections on Sunday alone, pushing its total case load to 19.56 million.

The second wave has been driven — in large part — by a new, more transmissible variant of the coronavirus known as B.1.617.

On Sunday, the country set a daily record, reporting 3,689 COVID-19 related deaths.

To date, more than 215,500 people have died in India after contracting the virus.

So far, the country has administered 153.6 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccines, according to the latest tally from Johns Hopkins University. 

That means more than 27.2 million, or 1.99 per cent of India’s population are now fully vaccinated against the virus.

Britain, U.S. provide aid

Canada’s largest allies have also provided aid to India.

The British government announced on Sunday it would send another 1,000 ventilators to India.

The country had previously agreed to send 600 medical devices, including ventilators and oxygen concentrators to India.

“This support will help urgently meet some of India’s acute needs, particularly oxygen for patients,” Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said in a statement.

“We are determined to help our Indian friends in their hour of need.”

The United States has also delivered emergency aid to India in the form of oxygen support, personal protective equipment, tests, therapeutics and more.
France, meanwhile, has sent eight oxygen generators to India.
-With files from Reuters

Source: Global News