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Britain rushes to increase aid to India’s health-care system

LONDON—Britain rushed to increase aid for India’s teetering health-care system on Sunday, promising more ventilators and expert advice as doctors grapple with a surge in coronavirus infections that is killing thousands of people a day.

The UK government said it will send an additional 1,000 ventilators to India. In addition, England’s National Health Service, which has battled one of the worst Covid-19 outbreaks in Europe, is creating an advisory group to share its expertise with Indian authorities.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson plans a video meeting with his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, on Tuesday to discuss further cooperation between the two countries, the UK government said in a statement.

India recorded 392,488 new infections, down from a high of more than 400,000 in the previous 24 hours. It also reported 3,689 deaths, raising overall virus fatalities to 215,542. Experts believe both figures are undercounts.

The new round of government aid comes in addition to the 200 ventilators, 495 oxygen concentrators and three oxygen generation units the UK said it was sending to India last week.

Private fundraising efforts are also taking place throughout Britain, where 1.4 million people have Indian roots.

“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.”

At the UK’s largest Hindu temple, volunteers are trying to raise 500,000 pounds ($690,000) by racking up 7,600 kilometers (4,722 miles) on stationary bikes—roughly the distance from London to Delhi—in 48 hours.

The British Asian Trust, a charity founded by Prince Charles, raised 1.5 million pounds to buy oxygen concentrators, which extract oxygen from the air. Sikh group Khalsa Aid raised money to buy 200 boxes of oxygen concentrators that Virgin Atlantic flew to Delhi free of charge on Saturday. AP

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