Top Indian diplomat praises UAE for support during deadly Covid-19 surge

Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said the country was grateful for assistance from Gulf nations

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India's foreign secretary on Saturday praised the support of the UAE and other Gulf nations, as his country grapples with a growing Covid-19 crisis.

Infections continue to surge in India, with health services overwhelmed by case numbers.

The country's increasingly desperate struggle against the pandemic reached a grim milestone on Saturday, when more than 400,000 new infections were recorded for the first time in a day.

A further 3,523 fatalities were reported in the previous 24 hours, taking the total coronavirus death toll in India to 211,853, according to official data.

Medical supplies sent from the UAE to India arrived on Friday.

Equipment included 157 ventilators and 480 bilevel positive airway pressure (BiPap) machines used to ease breathing difficulties.

India's Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said the country had received "a lot of assistance and also commitments of assistance from the Gulf region".

He said the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Qatar delivered key support.

Mr Shringla acknowledged "a special cargo flight from the UAE with ventilators and Favipiravir medicines", reported state news agency Wam.

Favipiravir is an anti-viral option for treating Covid-19.

Mr Shringla said India is in negotiations with the UAE to procure supplies of another anti-viral medicine, Remdesivir.

"Wherever stocks are available, we are trying to contact them and trying to get it into our country at the earliest so that we can cover the short-term gap."

He said all medical equipment and supplies destined for India would be exempt from the taxes, customs duties and other dues that would normally be paid.

"We want to make sure that this process is smooth right from the point that we identify sources of supply to the point that it actually reaches those of our citizens that need these items," Mr Shringla said.

UAE delivers crucial aid to India