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‘Humanity first’: Pakistan offers India support, equipment in wake of lethal COVID-19 wave

Family members mourn after a patient is declared dead outside the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) casualty ward, at Guru Teg Bahadur hospital, amidst the spread of the disease in New Delhi, India, April 23, 2021. — Reuters/Danish Siddiqui

Pakistan has officially reached out to India and offered support in the wake of a particularly lethal coronavirus wave in the country.

“As a gesture of solidarity with the people of India in the wake of the current wave of COVID19, Pakistan has officially offered relief and support to India, including ventilators, Bi PAP, digital X ray machines, PPEs and other related items,” announced Minister for Foreign Affairs Shah Mahmood Qureshi late Saturday.

“We believe in a policy of humanity first,” he added.

Later, while speaking to Geo News, the foreign minister said that he had been monitoring India’s situation for the last 48 hours, and the situation over there is “very worrying”.

The minister said keeping in view today’s situation, he held consultations with Prime Minister Imran Khan, and following their talks, the premier permitted the foreign ministry to approach India.

“We met India’s high commissioner in Pakistan and offered help on a humanitarian basis, that we can help and are willing to help, and this is our offer,” Qureshi said.

The foreign minister said the Indian envoy was asked to communicate Pakistan’s request to his government. “If they respond positively, then we will work out the modalities and send equipment via Wagah,” Qureshi said the Indian envoy was told.

Pakistan would send ventilators, masks, X-Ray machines, masks, PPE equipment, said Qureshi, adding that any other item that it can possibly offer, it will try to offer its neighbour, he said.

The foreign minister noted that Pakistan itself faces challenges at home, which is why the prime minister has appealed to the people to exercise caution, cooperate with the government and keep themselves protected for the sake of their families and their children,

“If the people cooperate, just as we were able to keep the virus at bay during the first wave and the second wave, we will be able to tackle the third wave as well,” he said.

He said the country’s success depends on the people’s awareness and cooperation. “We have the capacity to beat the virus if the nation is determined enough.”

Qureshi said that in view of the spirit of Islam, the government had made the gesture and are now awaiting a response.

India a ‘devastating reminder of what the virus can do’

For the second day running, India’s overnight infection total was higher than any recorded anywhere in the world since the pandemic began last year, at 332,730.

Some 2,263 died, with over 300 of those in Delhi alone — figures that are almost certainly conservative.

Currently, an online dashboard indicates just 22 ICU beds are available in Delhi out of more than 4,500.

People across the country are scrambling for life-saving oxygen supplies and patients lay dying outside hospitals as the capital recorded the equivalent of one death from COVID-19 every five minutes.

India’s second wave has hit with such ferocity that hospitals are running out of oxygen, beds and anti-viral drugs.

Many patients have been turned away because there was no space for them, doctors in Delhi said.

“Due to an exponential rise in COVID-19 cases in Delhi, all the hospitals are over-burdened,” a Delhi government spokesman said.

Ambulance sirens sound throughout the day and mass cremations have been taking place as the crematoriums have run out of space.

“The situation in India is a devastating reminder of what the virus can do,” World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual briefing in Geneva.

— With additional input from Reuters

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