LONDON -- Prince Charles said Wednesday that he is “deeply saddened” by the surge in coronavirus deaths in India, as he urged the public to back an appeal to buy oxygen equipment for the stricken nation.
In a message to the people of India, the heir to the throne said: “Indian aid and ingenuity has been a support to other countries through this immensely difficult time. As India has helped others, so now must we help India.”
He added that he has a “great love for India” and that he wanted “those suffering the effects of this pandemic in India to know that they are in my thoughts and prayers.”
The British Asian Trust, a charity Charles founded in 2007, launched an emergency appeal called “Oxygen for India” to buy oxygen concentrators, which can extract oxygen from the air when hospital infrastructure struggles to cope. As of Wednesday, the charity had raised more than 270,000 pounds, and the funds will be sent to the charity's local partners in India to procure oxygen equipment for the seriously ill in both cities and harder to reach rural areas.
“We’ve surpassed anything we thought we’re going raise before,” said Hitan Mehta, executive director of the trust. “We’ve had lots of inquiries from people about what they’re able to do, and what we are suggesting is donating their funds so we can make a difference on the ground immediately.”
Britain is home to a large Indian diaspora community of about 1.4 million people, and many have sought ways to support their home country during this crisis. A separate online fundraiser on the GoFundMe website has collected more than 380,000 pounds within days, and its organizers say the funds have enabled them to order hundreds of oxygen concentrators and ship them to India by the weekend.
A first British government shipment of 200 pieces of medical equipment, including ventilators and oxygen concentrators, arrived in Delhi Tuesday, and the rest is due to arrive by Friday. The equipment was sent in response to a request from India and will be transferred to Indian hospitals.
The Foreign Office said late Wednesday that the U.K. will also send three oxygen generation units to support India's fight against the pandemic. The units, the size of shipping containers, can each produce 500 liters of oxygen per minute, enough for 50 people to use at a time, officials said.