Pope Francis close to Indian people afflicted by the COVID-19 emergency

Pope sends a message to Card Gracias expressing “solidarity and spiritual closeness”. He writes that he is praying for the healing and consolation of those affected by the pandemic, and is grateful to the Catholic community for its work of “charity and fraternal solidarity”. Italy sends oxygen plant for 100 beds to a hospital in Noida.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis sent a message to Card Oswald Gracias, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, as a sign of communion with the people of India.

In it the pontiff says: “At this time when so many in India are suffering as a result of the present health emergency, I am writing to convey my heartfelt solidarity and spiritual closeness to all the Indian people”.

In the message the Holy Father goes on to say that he is praying “that God will grant healing and consolation to everyone affected by this grave pandemic.”

The Pope's thoughts are addressed “all to the sick and their families, to those who care for them, and in particular to those who are mourning the loss of their loved ones.”

Likewise, Francis mentions “the many doctors, nurses, hospital workers, ambulance drivers and those working tirelessly”.

To the Catholic community he expresses his “gratitude for the[ir] work of charity and fraternal solidarity” citing the faithful as well as the priests and men and women religious who lost their lives.

By way of conclusion, the pontiff writes: “these days of immense grief, may we all be consoled in the hope born of Easter and our unshakeable faith in Christ’s promise of resurrection and new life. To all I send my blessing.”

Meanwhile, for the second time in a week, the number of new coronavirus cases in India  exceeded 400,000 in a single day. The latest figures mark in fact yet another record. In the last 24 hours, 412,262 people have tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 virus, with 3,980 deaths for a total death toll since the start of the pandemic of 230,168.

Among the nations that have responded to India’s request for help, Italy has provided an oxygen plant to the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) hospital in Noida, Uttar Pradesh.

The plant, which arrived a few days ago and was set up in a record 48 hours, will provide oxygen to about a hundred beds at the medical facility, which caters primarily to the personnel of various police and paramilitary organisations, their families, veterans of these forces that operate under the command of the Union Home Ministry.

At today’s inauguration ceremony, Italian Ambassador Vincenzo De Luca switched on the plant and thanked the Indian government for the assistance provided to 17 Italian citizens currently in India who tested positive to the virus and were in need of care.