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NEW DELHI: India on Monday said it has dispatched a naval ship with 300 oxygen concentrators and 100 metric tons of liquid medical oxygen to Indonesia, which is reeling under a wave of covid-19 infections fuelled by the delta variant.

Indian foreign minister S Jaishankar in a Twitter post said Indian Naval Ship (INS) Airawat was on its way Tanjung Priok in Indonesia with medical help. “India stands with its partners in the fight against covid," the minister said.

Indonesia has been reporting record infections and covid-19 deaths in recent weeks with health experts calling the country Asia's new epicentre for the virus, a Reuters report said. Fueled by the spread of the more virulent delta variant, Indonesia has reported more new coronavirus cases than any country in the world, data from the latest seven-day average from a Reuters tracker showed. It was second only to Brazil in terms of the number of deaths, the report said.

Health services in the Southeast Asian country are overwhelmed and requests to help people find hospital beds or oxygen tanks have been shared on social media, while reports of those who died trying have risen, the report said.

According to the Indian Navy, the Indian ship left for Indonesia on 16 July and would be reaching soon.

This marks the first time India has dispatched medical aid abroad since the country recovered from a brutal second wave of covid-19 infections in April-May that saw its overall death toll shoot past 400,000 mark. India’s second wave of infections was also fuelled by the delta variant that resulted in an acute shortage of oxygen across the country. More than 50 countries had pitched in with oxygen concentrators, oxygen cylinders and other medical equipment besides drugs, liquid medical oxygen supplies and tanks to transport the oxygen to hospitals to help India curb its shortages. In May, Indonesia had supplied India with oxygen concentrators to help ease the situation.

India considers Indonesia one of its closest maritime neighbours with the distance between India's Andaman Islands and Indonesia's Aceh being not more than 80 nautical miles. India views the Southeast Asian country as a key component of its Act East policy and has been steadily expanding ties with Jakarta as its looks to deepen relations with the fast-growing economies of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

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