image Photo: Reuters

Israel gives emergency aid to India

Israel has begun delivery of emergency medical aid to coronavirus-stricken ally India.

“The extension of emergency assistance is an expression of the deep friendship between our countries in India’s time of need,” said Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi in a statement.

New Delhi is currently battling the world’s biggest COVID-19 surge. As of today, 20,665,148 people in India have died of the disease.

According to the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, flights to India are scheduled throughout the week to transport thousands of group and individual oxygen generators, in addition to respirators, medications and other urgently-required items.

Israeli Foreign Ministry Deputy Director for Asia & Pacific Theater Gilad Cohen said the airlifting of the life-saving equipment is being carried out in coordination with the Prime Minister’s Office, National Security Council, Health and Finance Ministries, in addition to several civil organizations.

India is considered to be one of the most important countries for Israel, among our best friends, both globally and in the Asian and Pacific theaters,” added Mr. Cohen, underscoring that, “We are proud to extend Israel’s hand to our great friend to the east, and extend to the citizens of India wishes of quick recovery and to emerge quickly out of the coronavirus crisis which they now are experiencing.”

This marks the second time that Israel is helping India to contain the disease. Last August, Jerusalem donated state-of-the-art artificial intelligence-based technologies and high-end equipment to the All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS) to curb the relentless outbreak of the coronavirus throughout the 1.35 billion- strong nation.

“This equipment that we are now sharing with AIIMS hospital is the most advanced technological medical equipment that we developed in Israel especially for fighting COVID-19,” said Israeli Ambassador to India Ron Malka at the time, explaining that “Some of it was invented and developed by the defense companies of Israel, utilizing technologies that are used for defense and implemented in medical devices just for fighting COVID-19.”

Israeli citizens are currently barred from visiting India due to the soaring outbreak of the pandemic. 6 other nations are also on the  no-travel list for the same reason, namely Ukraine, Ethiopia, Brazil, South Africa, Mexico and Turkey.  Exceptions for special circumstances can be permitted with governmental approval.

So far, 60 cases of the India mutation of the virus have been registered in Israel. The patients include 5 fully vaccinated adults and 5 children attending separate schools.

Connecting flights through airports in the designated countries are allowed if layovers are less than 12 hours in duration.

Israeli nationals returning home from the banned countries must immediately enter isolation upon returning to Israel, according to an amendment to the Public Health Ordinance signed by the Ministry of Health’s Director General Professor Chezy Levy.

Israel’s own “Back to Life” campaign has been one of the world’s most successful vaccination drives.

It nevertheless remains unknown what effect new strains will have on individuals who have been fully vaccinated or recovered from the disease.