Kuala Lumpur/Delhi, 17 May – Red Cross is urgently responding to keep people safe as a major cyclone sweeps up the west coast of India, threatening millions already reeling from a world-record COVID-19 surge.

In recent days, India has seen a slight reduction in infections, but death rates continue to set devastating new records. Hospitals and health services remain stretched beyond their limits in many parts of the country.

Udaya Regmi, South Asia head of Delegation, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said:

“This cyclone is a terrible double blow for millions of people in India whose families have been struck down by record COVID infections and deaths. Many families are barely staying afloat. 

“The potential impacts of Cyclone Tauktae are frightening as this monster storm threatens the state of Gujarat. Every effort must continue to keep people safe from this dangerous storm and the raging pandemic.”

While India has been reeling from record COVID surges, Indian Red Cross teams have been supporting older people and others most vulnerable across the country with ambulance services, access to medical care, food parcels and other critical relief.

“Indian Red Cross emergency response teams are working alongside authorities to evacuate people most at-risk in coastal areas, providing first aid, masks and encouraging other critical COVID-19 prevention measures,” Mr Regmi said.

“Hundreds of Red Cross volunteers are responding as prepositioned relief is urgently being sent such as tarpaulins for shelter, kitchen sets of pots and pans, hygiene kits and buckets for safe drinking water in cyclone-affected states.”

“This cyclone adds more unimaginable hardships for millions, particularly poorer people and others who are barely surviving on daily wages.” 

The IFRC is seeking vital funding for its global emergency COVID-19 appeal, with around 50% of the appeal covered so far. The funds are crucial to support the life-saving actions of the IFRC and member National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies around the world. 

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