Boris, Modi to hold virtual summit

Britain to send 1,000 more ventilators from its surplus stocks to support India’s Covid-19 response in the face of the second wave of infections, reports Asian Lite News

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi will launch a “comprehensive roadmap 2030” to expand and deepen bilateral cooperation over the next decade when they hold a virtual summit on May 4.

The roadmap will focus on enhancing cooperation in five areas – trade and prosperity, defence and security, climate action, healthcare and people-to-people relations, the external affairs ministry said on Sunday.

“The summit will be an important opportunity to elevate our multi-faceted strategic ties and enhance cooperation on regional and global issues of mutual interest. Both leaders will also discuss Covid-19 cooperation and the global efforts to fight the pandemic,” the ministry said.

The British foreign office also said in a statement on Sunday that the UK will send 1,000 more ventilators from its surplus stocks to support India’s Covid-19 response in the face of a second wave of infections.

The statement added that Johnson and Modi will agree on a “huge range of commitments” to deepen cooperation, including in fighting the pandemic, during their summit.

“The terrible images we have seen in India in recent weeks are all the more powerful because of the close and enduring connection between the people of the UK and India,” Johnson said.

“I am deeply moved by the surge of support the British people have provided to the people of India and am pleased the UK government has been able to play our part in providing life-saving assistance. The UK will always be there for India in its time of need.”

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Johnson has twice called off a planned visit to India this year because of the Covid-19 situation. Last month, he cancelled a trip that was to begin on April 25 following a surge in Coronavirus infections in India. Johnson cancelled a visit in January to be chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations in order to focus on his government’s response to a new Coronavirus variant that was spreading rapidly.

The fresh assistance from Britain will be in addition to 200 ventilators, 495 oxygen concentrators and three large oxygen generation units the UK announced it would be sending to India last week.

Chris Whitty

UK’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty and Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance have spoken to their Indian counterparts to provide advice and expertise for the Indian healthcare system.

The UK National Health Service is establishing a clinical advisory group led by Chief People Officer Prerana Isaar to support India’s Covid-19 response. The group will work with Indian institutions such as the All India Institute of Medical Services to share experience in managing Covid-19 outbreaks. The group will include researchers in public and global health, and nursing and other health professionals who have experience of the Indian healthcare system.

Over the past week, British citizens, businesses and civil society have also responded to appeals for help and launched funding drives. This includes the British Asian Trust’s “Oxygen for India” emergency appeal, which is raising funds for oxygen concentrators to be rapidly deployed to Indian hospitals. The appeal, personally backed by the Prince of Wales, has raised more than £1.5 million.

Virgin Atlantic flew 200 boxes of oxygen concentrators to New Delhi on Saturday after partnering with Khalsa Aid. More cargo space will be given free of charge on six flights to India in the next week, in association with The Red Cross.

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