Canada is sending medical supplies to India to help the country deal with a surge in coronavirus cases that has pushed its hospital system to the brink of collapse.
Military airlifts will deliver 25,000 vials of the antiviral drug remdesivir and up to 350 ventilators, Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau and other ministers announced in a news release today.
The Canadian Armed Forces deployed a CC-150 Polaris aircraft from Canadian Forces Base Trenton today to deliver the remdesivir vials and 50 ventilators that are ready to be shipped, the release said.
Remdesivir is used to used to treat patients with severe cases of COVID-19 and 25,000 vials is equal to at least 4,000 courses of treatment.
"Canada continues to stand in solidarity with the people of India," Garneau said.
"We must all unite in this hour of need and work together in the global fight against this virus that is devastating lives across the globe."
The government said it is also working through UNICEF to fund up to 1,450 oxygen concentrators for India. The machines remove nitrogen and other gases from the air to make pure oxygen that can be administered to COVID-19 patients with low blood oxygen levels.
India is experiencing a vast coronavirus outbreak, with 382,315 new confirmed cases and 3,780 deaths reported in the last 24 hours — although many medical experts say they think the true numbers are even higher. Some hospitals have run out of beds and oxygen after successive days of case counts topping 300,000 strained the country's health system.
Today, the World Health Organization said India accounted for 46 per cent of global cases and 25 per cent of global deaths reported in the past week.
The rise in cases prompted Canada to ban flights from India and Pakistan on Apr. 22.
Canada previously pledged $10 million in aid from the Canadian Red Cross to help the Indian Red Cross procure essential supplies and medicines.
The 350 ventilators will come from Canada's national emergency stockpile. Federal data show Canada has received over 27,000 ventilators since the beginning of the pandemic.
With a file from The Associated Press
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