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Dubai’s long-haul carrier Emirates has set up a humanitarian air bridge aimed at transporting urgent medical and relief items into India for free to help the country in its fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, the airline has said.

Emirates made the announcement at Dubai's International Humanitarian City, the largest crisis relief hub in the world and home to a WHO warehouse that has been crucial to the distribution of medical gear worldwide.

"Emirates has set up a humanitarian airbridge between Dubai and India to transport urgent medical and relief items, to support India in its fight to control the serious COVID-19 situation in the country," the airline tweeted on Sunday.

"Emirates and the UAE stand with India. We are launching a humanitarian airbridge and will offer cargo capacity free of charge to NGOs, to ship urgent medical and relief items on all our flights from Dubai to nine cities in India," it said in another tweet.

The offer by the Dubai-based airline, which has some 95 flights weekly to nine cities in India, could mean major savings for aid groups as airfreight costs have increased steeply amid the pandemic.

"India is facing one of its worst public health crisis in history. Today, I would like to announce that we are establishing an airbridge from Dubai to nine cities across India with immediate effect," said Nabil Sultan, divisional senior vice president for Emirates SkyCargo.

The airbridge cargo capacities will be extended to humanitarian entities free of charge, he said.

“The International Humanitarian City in Dubai is the largest crisis relief hub in the world and we will use our existing relationship with them to facilitate urgent transportation of these medical supplies. We are committed to helping India get back on its feet," he said.

India has been badly hit by the second wave of coronavirus and hospitals in several states are reeling under shortage of health workers, vaccines, oxygen, drugs and beds

The UAE banned in-bound passenger flights from India in late April, saying that all incoming flights on national and foreign carriers from the country will be suspended, while transportation of passengers from the Gulf country to India will be allowed.

After recording over four lakh fresh cases for four consecutive days, India witnessed a single-day rise of 3,66,161 COVID-19 cases on Monday, which pushed its tally to 2,26,62,575, according to the health ministry.

The death toll due to the viral disease climbed to 2,46,116 with 3,754 more people succumbing to it, the ministry's data showed.

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.

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