Indians in UK raise millions to send oxygen to the subcontinent

Britain’s Prince Charles joins call for donations to help India suppress Covid wave

BENGALURU, INDIA - APRIL 28: An employee wears his mask inside an oxygen filling centre on April 28, 2021 in Bengaluru, India. Residents of Indian cities have been leaving in droves to return to villages and towns across the country, sparking fresh fears that Covid-19 infections will spread to areas where health infrastructure is either poor or non-existent. India's deadly wave of infections is out of control, and the health ministry reported 360,960 new cases and 3293 deaths in the last 24 hours. (Photo by Abhishek Chinnappa/Getty Images)
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Indians in the UK have raised more than £1.5 million ($2m) to buy oxygen for the subcontinent as it grapples with a devastating wave of Covid-19.

The British Asian Trust said the Oxygen for India appeal aims to send as many oxygen concentrators to Indian hospitals as possible.

The world's second-most populous country has reported more than 300,000 new infections daily for nine consecutive days.

Another global record of 386,452 cases and 3,500 deaths were reported by India on Friday.

The coronavirus surge has led to a public health crisis, forcing the government to seek oxygen and medicine from overseas.

Despite the government’s efforts, oxygen supplies and hospital beds remain in desperately short supply.

Many relatives of Covid-19 patients have paid inflated prices for oxygen on the black market.

Manoj Badale, chairman of the British Asian Trust, said Indians in the UK “simply cannot stand by and do nothing”.

“The situation is desperate right now. The scenes people are witnessing are deeply tragic – they see people lying in hospital car parks full of screaming relatives,” he said.

The organisation aims to raise £2m for the purchase of oxygen concentrators – a device that recycles oxygen from the air and delivers it to the patient. In contrast, oxygen cylinders deliver air from a limited supply.

The trust says a single low-flow oxygen concentrator costs £450, while a high-flow device costs £830.

Britain’s Prince Charles urged people to donate.

“Indian aid and ingenuity has been a support to other countries through this immensely difficult time,” he said. “As India has helped others, so now must we help India.”

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