IAF helps COVID-19 battle by airlifting oxygen containers, health staff
As India faces its worst health crisis in decades, the Indian Air Force (IAF) has been pressed into action to facilitate faster transportation of medical oxygen as well as health staffers across the country. India has been gripped by an unprecedented second wave of COVID-19, with several states reporting an acute shortage of essential equipment including oxygen. Here are more details on this.
'Trying to ease distribution bottlenecks'
The IAF is focusing on cutting travel time of empty oxygen containers to places where oxygen is available or being produced. The containers are then filled with medical oxygen and shipped to their final destinations via road. "Our effort is to give logistical help to ease distribution bottlenecks (sic)," a top official in the Defense Ministry said, according to News18.
IAF aircraft C-17, IL-76, C-130 J, AVROS being used
IAF aircraft C-17, IL-76, C-130 J, AN-32, and AVROS have been assigned to improve the distribution of medical oxygen, necessary to treat critical COVID-19 patients. "C-17 and IL-76 aircraft airlifted cryogenic oxygen containers from Air Force Station Hindan to Panagarh for recharging, in support of the fight against COVID-19. Similar airlift tasks are underway across the country," the IAF tweeted this morning.
You can view the tweet here
Oxygen containers sent from Bengaluru to Delhi
The IAF's transport fleet has been carrying out this operation for the last two days. Two C-17 Globemasters have airlifted two empty oxygen containers while an IL-76 transported an empty container to Panagarh. Eight containers were ferried from Hyderabad to Odisha. Meanwhile, oxygen containers from the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) in Bengaluru have been sent to national capital Delhi.
IAF also airlifted doctors, nursing staff to Delhi
Not only oxygen, the IAF also airlifted doctors and nursing staff from Kochi, Mumbai, Visakhapatnam, and Bengaluru to DRDO's COVID-19 facility in Delhi. The force even transported a coronavirus testing set-up to Leh. Additionally, 32 of the Indian Army wagons that transport guns and tanks are being used to ferry oxygen. Defense Minister Rajnath Singh has asked forces to open their hospitals to civilians.
India reaches out to foreign countries for empty containers
India has also reportedly approached foreign countries for empty containers that will be airlifted by the IAF. The Armed Forces Medical Sciences (AFMS) unit plans to airlift 23 mobile oxygen-generating plants from Germany and deploy them in its hospitals. The plants are expected to reach India within a week. "We are on standby, awaiting formal orders for the mission," a senior IAF official said.
DRDO working to create makeshift hospitals across India
Separately, the DRDO is working to create makeshift COVID-19 hospitals across the country. A 500-bed facility has already been set up in Patna, Bihar while three more are currently being built in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. A 750-bed facility in Varanasi and a 900-bed hospital in Ahmedabad are also expected to be ready soon, reports say.
The COVID-19 situation in India
The COVID-19 situation in India continues to worsen. In the last 24-hour period, the country reported 3.32 lakh new coronavirus cases - the highest single-day surge for any country in the outbreak. It also added a record 2,263 deaths. The number of active cases in India has crossed the 24 lakh-mark. Several states have been reporting a shortage of essential equipment including medical oxygen.