An Indian Air Force (IAF) C-130J transport aircraft on Thursday delivered 6.2 tonne of essential medicines and hospital consumables to Maldives under Operation Sanjeevani. These medicines and consumables were procured from eight suppliers in India but couldn’t be transported through any other means due to the 21-day lockdown imposed to contain the spread of COVID-19 , an official statement said.
“At the request of the government of Maldives, the IAF aircraft activated Operation Sanjeevani and lifted these medicines from airports in New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Madurai before flying to the Maldives,” the statement said adding the Army facilitated the transport of these medicines and consumables from warehouses across India to the respective airports.
Among other things, these medicines include influenza vaccines, anti-viral drugs such as lopinavir and ritonavir — which have been used to treat patients with COVID-19 in other countries —medicines for cardiac conditions, kidney ailments, hypertension, high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis, allergies and cancer treatment, anticonvulsants, as well as consumables such as catheters, nebulisers, urine bags and infant feeding tubes, the statement added.
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Last month, India had dispatched a 14-member Army medical team to Maldives to set up a viral testing lab there. India had gifted 5.5 tonne of essential medicines to Male on March 14.
Air India has received China’s clearance to operate cargo flights to Shanghai and Hong Kong to help Indian pharmaceutical companies import personal protective equipment for frontline health workers.
“We have secured requisite approvals from Shanghai for our flights on April 4 and 5 and await clearances for flights on April 6,7 and 8. Permissions have also been obtained for operations to Hong Kong,” Air India Chairman and Managing Director, Rajiv Bansal, said at a press conference.
The flights are being operated on commercial basis following demands from pharmaceutical companies and their intermediaries and will carry cargo on inbound as well as outbound flights.
While the DGCA has allowed airlines to use both passenger cabins as well as aircraft bellies for transporting consignments, Air India is awaiting a nod from insurers as well as Boeing to be able to make the most of the cargo carrying capacity of its planes.
Mr. Bansal added that frequencies of cargo flights may be increased depending on the demand.
The cargo operations will help the airline earn some revenue at a time there is a ban on passenger flights and the entire fleet is grounded.