Malta has donated 20 oxygen concentrators to a hospital in India, as it seeks to help the virus-ravaged country cope with a flood of COVID-19 cases.

The oxygen concentrators form part of Malta’s overseas development assistance programme and will be sent to the Holy Family Hospital in India’s capital, New Delhi. 

They will be used to help treat patients who are heavily dependent on oxygen therapy, increasing the oxygen content of ambient air by filtering out nitrogen. 

Malta's donation is the result of a collaborative initiative between the Foreign Affairs Ministry and Health Ministry. 

India has had around 20 million reported COVID-19 cases so far, with almost half that total – 8 million – coming since March. 

Scores died over the weekend in hospitals hit by oxygen shortages that have forced clinics in New Delhi to send urgent appeals for help on social media.

"Oxygen is a basic requirement of a hospital and a consistent supply has not been assured. We are constantly firefighting," the head of the Madhukar Rainbow Children's Hospital Dr Dinesh told the Indian Express daily.

Indian federal and state authorities have been scrambling to get extra oxygen to hospitals and have resorted to sourcing it from the steel industry. 

Malta is one of a number of EU member states to have offered aid. Germany and France this weekend sent medical equipment including oxygen-generating plants, and Indian prime minister Narendra Modi held talks with EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen on Monday. 

The EU has activated a civil protection mechanism asking member states to donate to the relief effort. So far, Ireland, Belgium,  Romania, Luxembourg, Portugal and Sweden have pledged aid to India through the mechanism. 

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