Britain's Prince Charles on Wednesday made an impassioned plea as he backed an emergency appeal launched by his charity, British Asian Trust, and urged people to help India as it copes with a "horrific" second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. The 72-year-old heir to the British throne spoke of his "great love" for India, where he has paid several visits, and said that those suffering the effects of this pandemic in the country are in his "thoughts and prayers".
"For well over a year the pandemic has had a devastating impact on so many of us around the world. This week, I have been deeply saddened by the tragic images we have all seen as COVID-19 takes its horrific toll in India," read a statement by Prince Charles, released by Clarence House.
"With support from the Indian diaspora, the British Asian Trust has launched an emergency appeal for India to channel this desire to do something about this terrible situation and help save lives. Many members of the diaspora, and others including businesses, trusts and foundations, have already come together behind this appeal. I do hope that even more of us might be able to provide support to help those in India in their time of need," he said.
"Like many others, I have a great love for India and have enjoyed many wonderful visits to the country. Indian aid and ingenuity has been a support to other countries throughout this immensely difficult time. As India has helped others, so now must we help India,” he said, adding that "we will win this battle" together.
The British Asian Trust, founded by Prince Charles, had launched an emergency appeal entitled "Oxygen For India" to help meet the urgent needs of overrun hospitals in India.
The appeal is being supported by the British International Doctors Association (BIDA) who have partnered with the British Asian Trust to help raise funds, with a target of raising GBP 100,000.
"We have seen the terrible impact of the pandemic worldwide but the devastation in India currently is one of the worst points of the last 12 months," said Hitan Mehta, Executive Director of the British Asian Trust.
"The astronomical numbers of COVID-19 cases and deaths in India are frightening and we fear there is still a peak to come. What we can do now is provide essential support as quickly as possible to help those most in need. Our 'Oxygen For India' emergency appeal has been set up to provide vital supplies and equipment to save lives. We simply cannot stand by and do nothing," he said.
The appeal says a donation of GBP 50 will provide oxygen for 40 patients struggling to breathe, GBP 450 will provide low-flow oxygen concentrator to help 900 patients and an GBP-830 donation will provide high-flow oxygen concentrator to help 550 of the most seriously ill patients.
All funds raised by the "Oxygen For India" emergency appeal will go towards providing as many oxygen concentrators to hospitals as quickly as possible.
Oxygen concentrators are alternate devices to oxygen cylinders – while cylinders contain a finite amount of oxygen supply, a concentrator continually recycles oxygen from the air and delivers it to the patient, it explains.
Many British Indian Trust Ambassadors, including actors Sanjeev Bhaskar, Meera Syal and Nitin Ganatra and cricketer Isa Guha, have been vocal about the launch of the appeal across social media.
"Devastating scenes in India where people are dying in the streets due to COVID-19, please take a look at the British Asian Trust's emergency appeal. Please share. #OxygenForIndia Please give generously," said Ganatra, in his Twitter appeal.
India is struggling with a second wave of the pandemic with more than 3,00,000 daily new coronavirus cases being reported in the past few days, and hospitals in several states reeling under a shortage of medical oxygen and beds.
India saw a record single-day rise of 3,60,960 coronavirus cases, which pushed the total tally to 1,79,97,267, while the death toll crossed two lakh following 3,293 fresh fatalities, the health ministry said on Wednesday.
The death toll stands at 2,01,187, it said.