Indian Air Force flies oxygen tanks to UAE for refills to boost hospital supplies

Three containers filled with 60 tonnes of oxygen will be shipped to India on Wednesday

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The Indian Air Force flew three empty liquid oxygen tanks to the UAE on Monday.

They will be refilled with 60 tonnes and shipped back to India for use in the country's coronavirus fight.

India's Defence Ministry said transporting the empty containers on an Ilyushin IL-76 military plane was the quickest way to deliver the tanks to the UAE from Jamnagar, in Gujarat, western India.

They arrived at Al Maktoum International Airport in Dubai.

Pavan Kapoor, India’s ambassador to the UAE, said the tanks would be refilled and shipped back on an Indian Navy ship on Wednesday.

In the next rounds we will continue sending oxygen containers also through normal shipping lines and the facilities of DP World

Oxygen is a critical requirement in India's struggle against Covid-19, with hospitals running out of supplies and turning away patients as a result.

"These are three containers that Adnoc had given us that were sent to India with liquid oxygen earlier," Mr Kapoor told The National, referring to Abu Dhabi National Oil Company.

“These have been brought back for a refill. The idea is to save some time on the refill, so they were flown to the UAE.

“Once refilled, the containers will be sent off in a naval ship.”

The embassy obtained 200 tonnes of liquid oxygen for India from the UAE this month.

This cycle will be repeated over the next few weeks, with the empty tanks returning to the Emirates to be refilled.

“In the next rounds we will also continue sending oxygen containers through normal shipping lines and the facilities of DP World,” he said, referring to the logistics company in Dubai.

“We will definitely need this for the next few weeks, maybe longer, depending on the situation in India.”

The embassy sent seven tanks containing a total of 140 tonnes of liquid oxygen to India on May 1.

Indians living abroad, and community associations in the UAE and elsewhere have also sent medicine, ventilators and oxygen concentrators and cylinders to help.

They sent supplies by air courier directly to relatives in need or shipped them to India.

Several states in the country have introduced stay-at-home restrictions in attempts to contain the disease, which has killed at least 4,106 people in the past 24 hours.

A total of 274,390 people have died of Covid-19, according to Indian government figures.

India recorded 281,386 new Covid-19 cases on Monday – the first time the daily count has dropped below 300,000 since April.

Experts said it was too early to declare a turnaround in the nation's caseload.

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