The terrible toll of death and illness unfolding in India reinforces that the COVID-19 pandemic is far from over. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) urges the whole world to unify and provide vaccines for everyone, while upholding public health measures, in order to stem the transmissions of COVID-19. 

The Secretary General of Indian Red Cross, Mr Shri. R.K. Jain, shares, “It is a fact that everyone is at risk and precautions must be ensured to protect every individual. I have the first-hand experience of this as I am recovering from COVID -19. This terrible virus is claiming many lives and affecting livelihoods, businesses and all sectors of life. However, it will not dampen our spirit to fight back and help each other in this hour of great need.” 

Prior to the latest record surge of COVID-19, India had one of the fastest and highest vaccination rates in Asia. Yet while some of the world's richest countries have fully immunized over one in four people, just 1 out of 66 Indians have received both COVID-19 vaccine doses. 

“This is beyond the saddest of tragedies for India. With COVID-19 infections now at their highest rates since the pandemic started, it’s clear the world is entering a critical phase of this pandemic, our work cannot and will not stop,” says Udaya Regmi, IFRC’s Head of South Asia Delegation.

Red Cross’ response to COVID-19 in India

The Indian Red Cross, with the support of the IFRC, is working alongside authorities to help the people of India with lifesaving medical equipment including oxygen cylinders, ventilators, anti-viral drugs, blood services, testing and vaccinations.

Thousands of Indian Red Cross volunteers and hundreds of health teams are helping run quarantine centres, providing oxygen cylinders to people with severe COVID-19 symptoms and stepping up vaccinations, while also providing free masks, soap and gloves to those most at risk.

Mr Jain says, “Indian Red Cross, through its more than 1,100 field branches and network of thousands of dedicated staff and volunteers, is providing humanitarian services in close coordination with their respective local government authorities, including ambulance and blood services.”

Part of their COVID-19 response, Indian Red Cross volunteers distribute masks, soaps, and hygiene kits. They also teach people how to wash their hands properly to avoid the spread of the virus.

New Zealand Government’s support to India

On 28 April 2021, the New Zealand Government announced that it will contribute 1 million New Zealand dollars to the IFRC to assist India in its response to surging COVID-19 cases there. Kind gestures as such, from countries like New Zealand, are something that the Indian Red Cross recognises.

“We are overwhelmed with the incredible kindness and generosity from all domestic and international donors including national governments and individuals throughout the world. This support comes at a critical time when India fights back against the pandemic with all its resources,” says Mr Jain.

Media

For more information or key spokespeople in New Zealand or in India, enquiries can be made via communications@redcross.org.nz or 04 495 0139.