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Did Centre waste crucial time in distribution of foreign Covid aid? Govt responds

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Second shipment from Ireland carrying 2 oxygen generators, 548 oxygen concentrators, 365 ventilators and other medical equipment arrives at Delhi airport. 

The Centre on Tuesday rubbished a media report that claimed that crucial time was wasted in allocation and distribution of Covid aid sent by several foreign countries.  

A statement issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said that a coordination cell was set up on April 26 for the receipt and coordination of effective allocation of foreign Covid relief and support material. 

Referring to an article published in an English news website, the ministry said that the story claiming that the Centre took seven days to frame the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) of distributing these life-saving medical supplies ‘misinterprets factual information and is totally misleading’.

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“While the Standard Operating Procedure for allocations was issued by the Health Ministry on 2nd May, 2021, the work for receipt, allocation and distribution to the States and UTs through the Central and other Health Institutions started immediately as the global community started to support the Government of India efforts for fighting the global pandemic,” the statement said.

“The Coordination Cell under Addl. Secretary [Health] was created in the Health Ministry on 26th April 2021 and started work instantly. The inter-ministerial cell for prompt and effective coordination between various stakeholders comprises of one Joint Secretary on deputation from Ministry of Education, two Addl. Secy level officers from MEA, Chief Commissioner Customs, Economic Advisor from Ministry of Civil Aviation, Technical Advisor Dte. GHS, Representatives from HLL, two Joint Secretaries from the Health Ministry and Secretary General along with another representatives from Indian Red Cross Society (IRCS),” it added.

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Earlier, the health ministry said that aid received from other countries has been distributed in different states to help deal with the rising number of Covid-19 cases.

Based on the criteria and principles laid out by the ministry, depending on each state’s requirement, 24 different categories of items numbering nearly 40 lakhs were distributed to 86 institutions in different states, the ministry said in a statement.

Major categories of equipment include BiPAP machines; oxygen (concentrators, cylinders, PSA Oxygen plants and pulse oximeters); drugs (Favipiravir and Remdesivir); and PPE (coveralls, N-95 masks and gowns).

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