Sun, 20 Jun 2021

New Delhi [India], May 11 (ANI): High Commissioner of Canada to India, Nadir Patel on Tuesday said that the focus should not be on the rise in coronavirus cases in India due to the B1617 virus variant rather on how to assist to address this situation so that the crisis is mitigated.

"It would be easy to see how significant rise in this particular variant in terms of cases. We are moving forward to address this and getting on other side of this," said Patel on Indian variant of coronavirus B.1.617 variant, which WHO has classified as a variant of concern.

In an exclusive interview with ANI, Patel talked on various issues - COVID-19 assistance to India, role of private companies, individual stepping up to help India and travel restrictions.

"We shouldn't be focusing on how we got here, we should be really focusing on how we collaborate together to get over this. Our primary concern is the well-being of people and anything we can do to help our Indian friends here," said Patel.

Talking with ANI over shortage of vaccines, Patel said, "We have collaborated on pharma ecosystem for many years. India really stepped up and helped us last year with respect to pharma ingredients as well. But Canada does not have vaccine ecosystem itself so we are in very similar situation in that. Vaccination will be on its way in India or in Canada, much works needs to be done."He also remarked on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) waiver to COVID-19 vaccines at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to remove hurdles in ramping up vaccine production. He said, "Our minister has commented on this and we will look at any proposal that will be brought forward to the WTO. At this point, it's really like looking at wide rays of mechanisms that COVID pandemic challenge poses."Regarding, Canadian assistance to India, Patel said, "The first consignment arrived a few days ago and we'll have another flight arriving with additional supplies in the next couple of days. Canadian Govt started off with USD 10 million donations to Indian Red Cross""We sent 350 ventilators, 25000 vials of Remdesivir and 1450 oxygen concentrators via Unicef. Outpouring of support and solidarity with people of India in Canada has been special. Provinces of Ontario and Saskatchewan have collectively brought forward 3100 ventilators," added Nadir Patel.

"Indian High Commission and embassies around the world have reached out with an information that could be helpful for India in combatting this situation and we have been working very closely with the Indian High Commission. We have done a fantastic job in facilitating information things for example; oxygen and any other supplies that could be valuable, flights are arriving from Canada supported by Indian High Commission," said the Canadian High Commissioner.

Talking about role of private companies, and individual stepping up to help India, he said, "A number of private companies that are active in India have stepped uphave donated to Redcross and other organizations. Several million dollars have come in. We will see more support coming in."He also talked about people-to-people contact between the two nation as well as about travel restrictions regarding COVID-19 pandemic.

"Travel restrictions have been in place in India since last year march with respect to bubbles and what not. Everybody is doing their part to contain the spread of the virus one thing is absolutely certain that relationship between people of Canada and India is long standing and deep rooted, extremely resilient. Therefore, temporary travel suspensions whether from India or Canada or around the world will not take away that resilience and we are optimistic and hopeful that thing will return to normalcy. One thing that won't be gone is deep rooted connectivity between our people."Talking about various embassies in New Delhi facing the heat of surging coronavirus cases and not getting proper medical attention, Patel remarked, "Our top priority is health for all of our staff, for Canada based diplomats or local staffs, which is why we are in critical operation mode, everyone is working from home, some of our services are cut back so we could support consular and other needs.""We won't comment on specifics for privacy reasons but we will focus on health and well-being. If there is any need for engagement, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has been available all along and we collaborate with other embassies as well, sharing information on how we will get over this, get to other side sooner than later. It's difficult for everyone whether embassies or any individual here. The best way to combat is collaboration collectively together," added Patel. (ANI)

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