Canadian officials are in talks with their Indian counterparts about how Canada can best help India as it battles a grim surge of coronavirus infections that have overwhelmed the country’s healthcare system, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday.
“We’ve all seen the heartbreaking news from hospitals in India that are unable to keep up with the number of patients,” Trudeau told reporters at a press conference in Ottawa.
Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau spoke with his Indian counterpart to discuss Canada’s assistance to India, including through the donation of extra medical supplies, Trudeau said.
“We are also ready to provide $10 million – through the Canadian Red Cross – to the Indian Red Cross,” Trudeau said. “This will support everything from ambulance services to buying more PPE (personal protective equipment locally).”
Tuesday’s 323,144 new infections raised India’s total past 17.6 million, behind only the United States. It ended a five-day streak of recording the largest single-day increases in any country throughout the pandemic, but the decline likely reflects lower weekend testing rather than reduced spread of the virus.
The Indian health ministry also reported another 2,771 deaths in the past 24 hours, with roughly 115 Indians succumbing to the disease every hour. The latest fatalities pushed India’s deaths to 197,894, behind the U.S., Brazil and Mexico. Experts say even these figures are probably an undercount.
‘We need to be there for our friends’
Canada’s Procurement Minister, Anita Anand, said her cabinet colleagues Garneau and Development Minister Karina Gould are coordinating their efforts to “to ensure that we are mounting as much assistance as possible.”
Anand said she’s been in contact with Canada’s envoy in India and India’s High Commissioner in Canada to ascertain the precise supplies that are needed in India and how best Canada can support the needs that India has.
Trudeau said Canadians are also concerned about the situation in Pakistan and that Garneau is expected to speak with his Pakistani counterpart later on Tuesday.
“We know that we need to be there for our friends,” Trudeau said “And indeed we need to be there for everyone around the world because we don’t get through this pandemic anywhere until we get [through] everywhere.”
In the meantime, other nations have already begun sending assistance to India. Foreign Ministry spokesman Arindam Bagchi tweeted photos Tuesday of the first shipment of medical aid India received from Britain. It included 100 ventilators and 95 oxygen concentrators.
Other nations including the U.S., Germany, Israel and Pakistan have also promised medical aid. The countries have said they will supply oxygen, diagnostic tests, treatments, ventilators and protective gear to help India’s crisis, which World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called “beyond heartbreaking.”
With files from The Associated Press