As India continues to grapple with its second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, the country’s military has stepped up efforts to assist the government by transporting oxygen containers and medical supplies.
Hospitals across the country are reeling under a severe shortage of medical oxygen and beds in view of the drastic spike in the number of COVID-19 cases. The Indian Air Force (IAF) has been airlifting oxygen containers and tankers from abroad to various filling stations in the country to expedite the distribution of medical oxygen for the treatment of the patients.
Many deaths have been reported across the country as a result of a lack of oxygen, with the situation in the capital city of New Delhi among the worst in the country. As of May 12, the total number of coronavirus cases in the country was 2,33,40,938, out of which 37,04,099 were active cases; 2,54,197 people had died while 1,93,82,642 had recovered.
As many as 533 of the country’s 718 districts have reported a test positivity rate of over 10 percent, underscoring the colossal spread of the novel coronavirus infection in the country in recent weeks. The most affected states are Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan.
Up to the second week of this month, the IAF had conducted 98 sorties from 11 countries — Singapore, United Arab Emirates, Thailand, Germany, Australia, Belgium, Indonesia, the Netherlands, United Kingdom, Israel and France — airlifting 95 oxygen containers and generators weighing 793 metric tons, and other equipment weighing 204 metric tons, which have been distributed to different destinations across the country.
Air Vice Marshal M Ranade was quoted by the media as saying that the IAF has deployed 42 transport aircraft for COVID-19 relief tasks including 12 heavy lift and 30 medium lift aircraft which are being utilized to bring in relief measures, personnel and material from abroad.
Besides the IAF, the army and navy have also stepped in to provide assistance in the transportation of medical oxygen and equipment for the treatment of Covid-19 patients. An official pointed out that the sorties would continue to transport equipment from abroad until the situation comes under control.