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NZ high commission sends SOS to Congress over Oxygen scarcity, deletes post, says “Sorry”

By Saima Siddiqui 
Updated Date

New Delhi: The New Zealand High Commission in New Delhi sparked controversy on Sunday after deleting a tweet that appealed for medical oxygen to the youth wing of the opposition Congress as the country runs short on medical oxygen and essential medicines while coronavirus pandemic puts an immense pressure on its healthcare system.

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The diplomatic commission quickly deleted the tweet as many wondered whether they had come under government pressure to do so but the Congress posted photos on social media of its activists delivering the cylinders anyway.

“We are trying all sources to arrange for oxygen cylinders urgently and our appeal has unfortunately been misinterpreted, for which we are sorry,” the high commission said in a follow-up tweet.

The Indian Youth Congress live-tweeted its delivery of the medical oxygen, adding that the patient inside was “critically ill”.

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Stung by the developments, the Ministry of External Affairs advised foreign missions “not to hoard essential supplies, including oxygen”.

“The Chief of Protocol and Heads of Divisions are in continuous touch with all High Commissions, Embassies and MEA is responding to their medical demands, especially those related to Covid. This includes facilitating their hospital treatment. Given the pandemic situation, all are urged not to hoard essential supplies, including oxygen,” the foreign ministry said.

These events surely gave way to many questions as whether the New Zealand mission had been coerced into deleting the tweet because it was embarrassing for the Indian government.

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The New Zealand mission’s SOS to the Congress followed similar appeal by the Embassy of the Philippines that was answered by the party last evening.

It prompted a bitter exchange between senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar.

Notably, India is reeling under an unprecedented surge in COVID-19 cases that has overwhelmed hospitals and left hundreds of patients dying from shortage of oxygen and medicines across the country. Social media has been flooded with appeals for the healthcare essentials and beds.

Given to the devastating situation in the country, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has been skewered by critics in home as well as internationally for bungling its response to the pandemic and possibly exacerbating it with mega political rallies and religious events.

India has lost over 2 lakh citizens to Corona virus, while its single day Covid tally hit the grim four lakh-mark, making it the second worst hit nation in the world.

The country witnesses the deadliest day of the pandemic with 3,689 deaths and 3.92 lakh new cases in last 24 hours, taking the Covid total tally to 1.95 crore this morning.

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