NEW DELHI: France on Tuesday announced that it is sending to India oxygen generators, liquid oxygen containers, ventilators and other medical supplies by air and sea to support the country in its fight against surging coronavirus cases.
The French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs said it is carrying out an "exceptional solidarity mission" to assist Indian people following a call for support by French President Emmanuel Macron.
"France and India have always stood by each other's side in difficult times. This solidarity is at the core of our strategic partnership and the friendship between the Indian and the French peoples," it said.
India is reeling under a devastating wave of coronavirus infections and hospitals across the country are facing acute shortage of beds, medical oxygen and other supplies due to rising COVID-19 cases.
The US, Germany, Britain, Australia, Singapore, Israel and several other countries as well as the World Health Organisation and the European Union have already announced urgent medical assistance to India to help it deal with the situation.
"At the request of the President of the French Republic, the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs is fully mobilised to carry out an exceptional solidarity mission in support of the Indian people, who have been severely affected by the COVID-19 epidemic," the ministry said.
"Coordinated by the ministry's Crisis and Support Centre and carried out by the Embassy of France in India, the mission will involve shipping by air and sea freight by the end of this week," it said in a statement.
French ambassador to India Emmanuel Lenain said the "massive solidarity mission" is being supported by the European Union and French companies present in India.
"This massive solidarity mission, initiated at Prez @EmmanuelMacron's request, is supported by French companies present in India and the EU. It aims to both respond to the emergency and boost the long-term resilience of India's healthcare system," he said in a tweet.
The French foreign ministry said the medical supplies will include eight oxygen generators, each capable of uninterrupted supply of oxygen for a 250-bed hospital for nearly 10 years.
"Each unit can uninterruptedly supply a 250-bed hospital. Its oxygen output can fulfil the needs of 15 critically ill COVID-19 patients in an ICU (or 30 patients in the ICU of a conventional hospital) or 150 patients on oxygen therapy in a conventional hospital facility. These oxygen generators also include ramps for filling oxygen cylinders," it said.
The ministry said five containers of liquid medical oxygen are being sent as part of the first instalment, adding they are capable of supplying medical oxygen to up to 10,000 patients per day.
France is also sending to India 28 ventilators and their consumables, as well as 200 electric syringe pumps.
The ministry said the supplies are being sent in response to the needs expressed by India's authorities and they are intended to not only to address the emergency but also to significantly boost capabilities of Indian hospitals to "treat the sick and fight the pandemic".
It said the package is part of the support announced on Sunday by the European Union under its Civil Protection Mechanism.
On Friday, French President Macron expressed solidarity with India and offered his country's support to it. "I want to send a message of solidarity to the Indian people, facing a resurgence of COVID-19 cases. France is with you in this struggle, which spares no-one. We stand ready to provide our support," Macron said.