Singapore sends two planeloads of oxygen cylinders to India to aid its Covid-19 response

Second Minister for Foreign Affairs Maliki Osman taking a closer look at the oxygen tanks onboard a C-130 transport aircraft at Paya Lebar Air Base on April 28, 2021. ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH
RSAF aircrew specialist Ng Kok Wee securing oxygen tanks in a C-130 transport aircraft at Paya Lebar Air Base on April 28, 2021. ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

SINGAPORE - Two planeloads of oxygen cylinders are on the way to India from Singapore, to help the country address its unprecedented oxygen crisis arising from a second wave of Covid-19 infections.

The Republic of Singapore Air Force is transporting the 256 oxygen cylinders on board two C-130 planes from Singapore to West Bengal, India.

Second Minister for Foreign Affairs Maliki Osman on Wednesday (April 28) reaffirmed both countries' strong bilateral relations, adding that Singaporeans stand in solidarity with India in its fight against the pandemic.

"This is made possible because of the existing close relationship between our two peoples, our governments, and our countries," he said at the send-off at Paya Lebar Air Base.

Dr Maliki, who is also Minister in the Prime Minister's Office, spoke when handing over Singapore's humanitarian assistance to India to High Commissioner of the Republic of India P. Kumaran.

This initiative, arranged at short notice, is testament to the close collaboration and partnership across multiple agencies on both sides, said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a statement on Wednesday.

Sending oxygen cylinders to India is part of Singapore's many relief efforts and contributions to bring humanitarian relief to India.

India's Covid-19 numbers hit another record on Monday for the fifth day in a row. The country on Sunday saw 352,991 new infections.

The country of 1.3 billion has to date recorded over 17.6 million Covid-19 infections and over 197,000 deaths. Health experts said the death toll is probably far higher.

Medical equipment, including oxygen-related supplies, was also sent from Singapore to India on Sunday.

Last Saturday, the Indian Air Force airlifted four cryogenic tanks from Changi Airport. The tanks will be used to transport oxygen in India.

In his speech on Wednesday, Dr Maliki reiterated that Covid-19 is a transboundary threat.

"It (the pandemic) gives no regard for country, nationality or race. This is exactly why we must work collectively to support each other."

Dr Maliki thanked the government of India for continuing to work with Singapore throughout the pandemic, and keeping supply chains open and essential goods flowing.

India's High Commissioner to Singapore P. Kumaran (left) and Second Minister for Foreign Affairs Maliki Osman at the handover ceremony for Singapore's humanitarian aid to India at Paya Lebar Air Base on April 28, 2021. ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

"I have no doubt that the fighting spirit of the Indian people will prevail. We have witnessed India's immense capabilities in mobilising her people and resources when challenges arise.

"While our contribution is modest, we hope that it will bring comfort and relief to those in need and encourage those on the front line in India, who are working tirelessly, to fight on," added Dr Maliki.

He said he hopes that supporting India with oxygen supplies will add momentum to the work undertaken by Singaporeans, private entities and civil society organisations, including the Singapore Red Cross, to contribute to India's Covid-19 fight.

So far, 7,511 oxygen concentrators, 516 BiPAP ventilators, and other medical equipment and supplies were sent to India from companies and foundations in Singapore, said Singapore's diplomatic missions in New Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai in a tweet on Wednesday.

The Singapore Red Cross the same day launched a public fund-raising appeal to deliver assistance and support communities in India affected by the second wave.

The funds will be used to purchase urgently needed medical equipment and supplies, such as ventilators, oxygen cylinders and oxygen concentrators.

The Singapore Red Cross said it has already purchased and will deliver five ventilators to community hospitals in New Delhi.

Donations raised through the India Health Relief Fund, launched on Monday by the Singapore Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the Little India Shopkeepers Association, will also be fully directed towards the Singapore Red Cross' fund raiser.

The donations can be made online, through PayNow, or by writing a cheque.

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