New Delhi [India], April 29 (ANI): Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla, while elaborating on international cooperation amid the devastating second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, on Thursday said that the objective is to channelise the assistance sought and received by the country in an effective manner.
Speaking at a special press briefing, Shringla said: "Our objective is to ensure that we channelise all of this assistance that is both sought by us and being received in a manner that is as effective as possible. In other words, how do we receive it and how do we facilitate quick clearance, and not only that, we ensure that all of this is taken to different parts of the country where it is needed the most."
"As of now, we have over three million active cases. This has obviously put considerable pressure on our healthcare system, on the capacities and resources that we have. The government has been in many senses very quick to try and make an assessment of where we have capacity shortfalls, where we have a requirement to meet on an urgent basis," he added.
The Foreign Secretary mentioned that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has personally given his direction and guidance on many of the areas that are being dealt with, and a group of ministers have been involved in the process.
"We've prioritised certain areas, I think liquid oxygen is one of the areas that has been a priority. We've also seen the requirement for any equipment that produces oxygen - oxygen generators, concentrators, cryogenic tankers, transportation equipment for oxygen," he said.
"We have also needed some pharmaceutical products like Remdesivir and Tocilizumab which is also a drug that is quite urgently required, although we have produced Remdesivir, but given the requirements, obviously the production has not been adequate to meet the immediate shortfall," he added.
Categorising different areas where the government is focusing to deal with the pandemic, Shringla informed that government-to-government sourcing is being sought after.
"In other words, the government has an empowered group, which is currently headed by the Secretary of the Ministry of Transport and Highways and this group has been engaged in seeing how we can quickly source bulk liquid oxygen etc and they have done some very commendable working in getting some immediate results in that area," he elaborated.
"The second is the area in which we have actually received offers of assistance from various governments. Actually, there has been quite an outpouring of solidarity with India, there has outpouring from various countries, over 40 countries have committed to provide us with many of the items that we need most urgently," he added.
In terms of procurement from Indian corporates, Shringla said that many of the larger Indian companies, who are already integrated into supply chains globally, have been sourcing equipment quickly from their sources of supply.
"The fourth area is international corporates, in the US, for example, a large number of corporates have come together under the auspices of the state department and some government facilitation to offer assistance through their resources. Finally, Indian community associations and individuals who have, from all over the world, come forward to say that what can we do to assist," he mentioned.
The worsening COVID-19 situation in India has seen a surge in the demand for medical oxygen and beds for the patients and many parts of the country are reporting an acute shortage of essential medical supplies.
Several countries around the world have come forward to help India as it continues to struggle with rising coronavirus cases.
Meanwhile, India once again recorded the highest single-day surge of COVID-19 infections, registering 3,79,257 new cases along with 3,645 deaths and 2,69,507 recoveries in the last 24 hours. (ANI)