NZ High Commission’s oxygen appeal in Covid-stricken nation leads to local agency's warning

The New Zealand High Commission in Covid-stricken India deleted, then apologised for a tweet which appealed to the youth wing of the country’s opposition congress for oxygen.

The appeal led the Congress to say the patient inside was “critically ill” while live-tweeting the delivery of the oxygen, according to NDTV.

"We are trying all sources to arrange for oxygen cylinders urgently and our appeal has unfortunately been misinterpreted, for which we are sorry," NZ High Commission’s tweeted as an apology.

In a statement to 1 NEWS, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesperson said: "The tweet was issued in error on the New Zealand High Commission’s Twitter account. It has since been withdrawn and we have apologised, including to the Indian government, for the misunderstanding it may have caused.

"We have nothing further to add except to say that the safety, health and welfare of our staff in India and across the global network is a priority."

The incident comes as India’s struggling health system faces a crippling shortage of oxygen with up to 400,000 new cases recorded each day. Today, the Asian country recorded 392,488 new cases, down from a high of 401,993 the previous 24 hours.

It also reported 3,689 additional deaths but experts believe both figures are an undercount.

The incident led India’s Ministry of External Affairs to issue advice for foreign diplomatic services to not hoard 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-19. This includes facilitating their hospital treatment. Given the pandemic situation, all are urged not to hoard essential supplies, including oxygen," the foreign ministry said.

The New Zealand High Commission’s appeal to Congress followed a similar bid from the Embassy of the Philippines over the weekend.