Matt Hancock warns India Covid crisis is 'stark reminder this isn't over yet' – and Britain MUST be vigilant

MATT Hancock has tonight warned that India's Covid crisis is a "stark reminder this isn't over yet."

In an address to the UK, the Health Secretary called photos from the stricken subcontinent "harrowing" – and said Brits must stay vigilant.

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It comes as Britain sends more life-saving equipment to India, including three mini oxygen factories.

And although the UK has hit the "bottom" level of the pandemic, registering just 2,000 cases a day, Brits must still comply with social distancing and remember "hands, face, space", he said.

"It pains each one of us seeing these scenes," Mr Hancock said this evening.

"Everyone across the whole of the UK stands side-by-side with the people of India in these troubled times, because in this battle against coronavirus, we're all on the same side.

"This fight is a global fight, and when other nations face their hour of need, as we faced ours, we will be there.

'BRITS MUST LEARN TO LIVE WITH COVID'

"The situation in India is a stark reminder this isn't over yet."

And he said we must learn to live with Covid in the years to come.

"We are going to have to live with coronavirus, much as we do with flu," he said.

Health chiefs hope it will become an illness that doesn't "dominate our lives", he said.

"That is the strategic goal, if you like, and the vaccination programme is central to it."

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab announced a package of support for India today after the country passed 200,000 Covid deaths.

It will include three container-sized oxygen factories to help produce life-saving supplies for overwhelmed hospitals.

Each plant can produce 500 litres of oxygen per minute, which is enough for 50 people to use at any one time.

They will be sent from surplus stocks in Northern Ireland.



Mr Raab said: "We stand with our Indian friends in their fight against Covid-19.

"International collaboration is more essential than ever, and this additional UK support package will help meet India’s current needs, particularly for more oxygen."

India is on Britain's 'red list' – essentially meaning travel is banned.

It was added to the list at 4am last Friday.

The country has suffered a devastating resurgence of the virus, and has less than 10 per cent of its population vaccinated so far.

Capital Delhi is among the worst hit places, with soaring cases and dwindling oxygen supplies.

In some hospitals, oxygen has run out altogether, with medics forced to abandon patients to die on roads outside.

The country of 1.5billion people made it through the first wave of the pandemic when it went into a strict lockdown between March 25 and May 31, 2020.

UK HITS 'BOTTOM OF PANDEMIC'

However, after the country was declared open with restrictions lifted in March, the situation has drastically worsened.

One of India’s leading virologists, Dr Shahid Jameel, said: “We let our guard down. It was complacency.”

Cricket matches, and massive religious festivals, all largely maskless, were held.

Dr Jameel, of Ashoka University, said: “These were all possible super-spreader events.”

Elsewhere in the address to the nation tonight, Jonathan Van-Tam stressed the importance of getting the jab.

The deputy chief medical officer said: "We are extremely confident that our current vaccines are working extremely well against the dominant variant in the UK."

And he said Boris Johnson's roadmap out of lockdown appears to be proceeding as planned.

"I want us to continue at pace but still with caution," he said.

"I can't emphasise how important the vaccine programme continues to be."

But he said it's "inconceivable" that there won't be "further bumps in the road" in the months to come, adding: "I am anticipating some degree of bumpiness, probably in the autumn and the winter."


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