“Don’t Hoard Oxygen”: Government To Embassies Amid Row Over SOS

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The comment came in response to media queries following an SOS by the New Zealand High Commission in New Delhi to the youth wing of the Congress party for medical oxygen.

'Don't Hoard Oxygen': Government To Embassies Amid Row Over SOS

Oxygen shortages in the country have resulted in hundreds of deaths in the past month.



New Delhi:

Foreign missions should not hoard oxygen and other essential supplies, the Ministry of External Affairs said on Sunday, as many of them turned to the opposition Congress for help amid the unprecedented coronavirus crisis in India that has crippled its healthcare system.

“The Chief of Protocol and Heads of Divisions are in continuous touch with all High Commissions, Embassies and MEA is responding to their medical demands, especially those related to Covid. This includes facilitating their hospital treatment. Given the pandemic situation, all are urged not to hoard essential supplies, including oxygen,” the foreign ministry said.

The comment came in response to media queries following an SOS by the New Zealand High Commission in New Delhi to the youth wing of the Congress party for medical oxygen and a similar one from the Embassy of the Philippines a day ago.

The New Zealand mission quickly deleted the tweet as many wondered whether they had come under government pressure to do so but the Congress splashed photos on social media of its activists delivering the cylinders anyway.

“We are trying all sources to arrange for oxygen cylinders urgently and our appeal has unfortunately been misinterpreted, for which we are sorry,” the high commission said in a follow up tweet.

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The New Zealand High Commission deleted the tweet addressed to the Congress.

The Indian Youth Congress live-tweeted its delivery of the medical oxygen, adding that the patient inside was “critically ill”.

The exchange prompted many to question whether the New Zealand mission had been coerced into deleting the tweet because it was embarrassing for the Indian government.

The New Zealand mission’s SOS to the Congress followed similar appeal by the Embassy of the Philippines that was answered by the party last evening.

It prompted a bitter exchange between senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar.

India is reeling under a massive surge in COVID-19 cases that has overwhelmed hospitals and left hundreds of patients dying from shortage of oxygen and medicines across the country. Social media has been flooded with appeals for the healthcare essentials and beds.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has been skewered by critics in the country and the international press for bungling its response to the pandemic and possibly exacerbating it with mega political rallies and religious events.

While the deaths from shortages have piled up, the government has been particularly sensitive about its image in the foreign media, countering unfavourable headlines with rejoinders and social media posts.


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