Russian plane lands in US with medical supplies to combat coronavirus

Washington: A Russian cargo plane carrying 60 tonnes of medical supplies, including ventilators, masks and other protection gear, needed to treat the patients with COVID-19 landed in the US as the country wrestles with the coronavirus pandemic that the White House has warned could kill up to two lakh people during the next fortnight.

The Permanent Mission of Russia to NATO on Thursday tweeted a video of the Russian Ministry of Defence cargo aircraft Ruslan AN-124-100 arriving at the John F Kennedy airport in New York.

“MoD cargo aircraft Ruslan AN-124-100 arrived in Flag of United States NY JFK airport with 60 tons of medical equipment, ventilators, masks & other protection gear to assist in fighting real common adversary- COVID19,” the mission said in the tweet.

The move to buy medical equipment from Russia comes after a telephonic conversation between US President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on March 30.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a tweet said that it was a time to work together to overcome a common enemy that threatens the lives of all.

“We have to work together to defeat COVID-19. This is why the US agreed to purchase urgently needed personal protective equipment from Russia to help FEMA respond in New York City,” he said.

Earlier, State Department Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said on Wednesday, “as a follow-up to the March 30 phone call between President Trump and President Putin, the United States has agreed to purchase needed medical supplies, including ventilators and personal protection equipment, from Russia, which were handed over to FEMA on April 1 in New York City.”

Both the countries have provided humanitarian assistance to each other in times of crisis in the past and will no doubt do so again in the future, she said.

“This is a time to work together to overcome a common enemy that threatens the lives of all of us,” she added.

“The countries of the G20 agreed last week to work together to defeat the coronavirus, and we are working closely with these countries and others to ensure that critically needed supplies get to those in need,” Ortagus said.

The United States is committed to the global fight against COVID-19, she said, adding that the US is a generous and reliable contributor to crisis response and humanitarian action across the world.

“But we cannot do it alone,” Ortagus noted.

President Trump told reporters on Tuesday that the US was headed for a “very tough two weeks”, advising people to be prepared for the “hard days” ahead, as the country is at war with the deadly coronavirus pandemic that the White House projects could claim one to two lakh lives during the next fortnight.

Deborah Birx, a member of White House Task Force on coronavirus, based on a model from actual data from the ground, said the death toll in the US could be between 100,000 to 200,000, with the strict implementation of the existing mitigation measures including social distancing till April 30.

Across the United States, hospitals are facing shortages of ventilators.

Some medical device makers have agreed to ramp up supplies. But because patients diagnosed with or suspected to have COVID-19 often require breathing support, there is widespread concern that these devices won’t be developed and shipped quickly enough.

A total of 932,605 COVID-19 cases have been reported across more than 175 countries and territories with 16,809 deaths reported so far, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

The US has reported 213,372 COVID-19 cases, the highest in the world, and over 5,000 people have died due to the disease.

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