A number of European Union (EU) member states will offer their assistance to India to help the populous Asian country tackle the unexpected pandemic resurgence, the European Commission said on Monday.
Ireland has confirmed it will send 700 oxygen concentrators to India, while France and Germany have promised their help through the EU's civil protection mechanism, said Balazs Ujvari, the commission's spokesperson for humanitarian aid and crisis management.
India is in dire need of medical oxygen and anti-viral drugs, according to Ujvari.
The mechanism was activated on Friday and the European Commission has been deploying effort over the weekend to reach out to its member states for possible assistance.
"Alarmed by the epidemiological situation in India. We are ready to support," said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Sunday. She said on Twitter that the EU is pooling resources to respond rapidly to India's request for assistance via its civil protection mechanism.
Without giving further details, the Elysee told AFP on Sunday that France would provide "significant oxygen capacity support" to India by sending "respirators as early as next week by plane."
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Sunday that her government was preparing emergency aid for India. "The fight against the pandemic is our common fight. Germany stands in solidarity with India and is urgently preparing a mission of support," Merkel said in a message shared on Twitter by her spokesman Steffen Seibert.
The German Defense Ministry said it's assessing the possibility of providing a mobile oxygen generator and other medical equipment.
"You may expect in the next few hours or days that more countries confirm their assistance to India," Ujvari confirmed on Monday.
India is currently going through a serious wave of COVID-19. The new "double mutant" variant named B.1.617 is infecting the country's population at a vertiginous rate, saturating hospitals.
India's COVID-19 tally reached 16,960,172 on Sunday with 349,691 new cases recorded in the past 24 hours. Sunday was the fourth consecutive day when over 300,000 daily cases were registered in the country.
While announcing Germany's readiness to provide help, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said travelers coming from India will be barred from entering Germany starting on Monday, except for German citizens and people with German permanent residence.
"The second wave is currently rolling over India with unprecedented power. It was right that we acted quickly to stop the entry of the new mutation in Germany," Maas told the Rheinische Post newspaper on Monday.
Another European Commission spokesperson reminded on Monday that it is entirely understood that "we should continue to discourage any non-essential travel in general, including also outside of the EU," but stopped short of giving clear advice on whether a travel ban from India should be imposed