Abu Dhabi Hindu temple's crucial medical aid arrives in India to boost Covid-19 fight

The religious charity is among hundreds of overseas groups delivering medical supplies

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Medical equipment and oxygen supplies sent by Abu Dhabi’s Hindu temple group reached India at the weekend.

The crucial supplies have been sent to government and non-profit hospitals in villages and towns hit hard by Covid-19.

The UAE Baps Hindu mandir organisation, the organisation building the UAE’s first traditional Hindu temple in the capital, said the aid would reach the “smallest of village clinics and hospitals”.

The first two oxygen tanks carrying the first shipment of 440 tonnes of liquid oxygen will be delivered to centres in Palanpur, Patan, Ahmedabad and Morbi in western India.

We are trying to help in some way possible and this is our small attempt to reach people who are in need

The tanks will then be returned to the UAE to be refilled and the chain will continue to send oxygen supplies over the next few weeks.

The group has also sent more than 1,600 oxygen cylinders and 1,000 oxygen concentrators with contributions from the Indian community in the Emirates.

“Our supplies have gone beyond the cities, as we distribute oxygen tanks to small villages which are logistically difficult to reach,” said Ashok Kotecha, chairman of the Baps Hindu mandir in Abu Dhabi.

The charity has treated more than 4,000 Covid-19 patients in four hospitals, a field hospital and a Covid care centre in India, he said.

The group has also distributed food kits with lentils, rice, cereals, fresh vegetables and fruit to the needy in India.

More than 1,000 beds for hospitals overwhelmed by a rise in patient numbers and thousands of protective equipment for medical staff were also sent.

With daily Covid-19 cases rising, the attention has moved from the large cities to smaller towns.

India has registered the world’s highest number of daily Covid-19 cases for days.

The country reported 403,738 and 4,092 deaths in the past 24 hours.

On Sunday, the western state of Maharashtra registered 864 casualties, the largest number across all states.

Communities rally to deliver support in time of crisis

UAE residents have come together to send supplies to their hometowns in dire need of aid.

Dr Sanjay Paithankar, who runs clinics for blue-collar workers in the Emirates, worked with friends to send 500 oxygen concentrators and 400 oxygen cylinders by ship and 150 oxygen concentrators by air to his hometown Nagpur.

“This is a disaster for India and for Maharashtra, the state that I belong to. We are trying to help in some way possible and this is our small attempt to reach people who are in need,” said the Dubai resident.

India’s federal government and state authorities have been criticised for failing to ready health systems to cope with higher numbers.

The rapid surge in Covid-19 cases was exacerbated when social gathering and religious festivals were allowed to continue unchecked.

The rise in numbers has also been blamed on crowded election rallies held by politicians, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

At least 16 states have now imposed lockdowns to restrict movement until the end of the month.

Relatives left feeling 'helpless' by deadly surge

But the measures have come too late for many UAE residents who have lost family members in India to Covid-19. Some died due to lack of access to medical facilities swamped with hundreds of patients.

"I have lost people in my family to Covid," said Sandesh Ubhe, a Abu Dhabi resident.

“We are helpless because so many people have died and so many were not able to get a hospital bed.”

He was among a group that sent a shipment of 100 cylinders to Nagpur.

“We heard that some hospitals only have few cylinders for emergency patients and others are being given oxygen at home or in cars so we sent this shipment to a non-government group to help whoever we can,” Mr Ubhe said.