ITS daily death toll from covid has reached more than 6000 per day and has seen total fatalities rise to almost 360,000 in India, the world’s third highest.

As hospitals and medics are overwhelmed by the scale of the virus in Indian town, cities, and rural areas, there is also a shortage of beds, oxygen and equipment.

However, it is right here in Scotland where staff at a Greenock-based international paper trading company, PG Paper, have been drafted in to help the plight of accessing aid.

It was a call to Poonam Gupta OBE, chief executive officer, and her husband Puneet Gupta, chief operating officer, that was the trigger and the couple brought together their global network and skilled staff to respond and ultimately help save lives.

PG Paper redeployed many of its staff to scour the globe for thousands of life-saving oxygen concentrators to help treat covid victims in India.

In the past six weeks PG Paper has been working round the clock to purchase nearly 3000 units of the life-saving equipment.

PG Paper responded to a call for aid

PG Paper responded to a call for aid

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It’s estimated up to 10,000 patients can be treated with these concentrators, machines that take in room air (made up of oxygen, nitrogen and a small amount of carbon dioxide). They remove the nitrogen from the air by passing it through special filters to create oxygen that can be delivered to patients through tubing.

Mrs Gupta said: "My family live in India and I was getting calls during their second wave asking me if I could help. Delhi was among one of the worst hit and it really an SoS call from family that was the trigger and I knew we had to do something to help. We knew that anything we could do would help to make a difference in saving lives and this became very personal to me."

Puneet and Poonam Gupta, directors of PG Paper, felt compelled to help.

Puneet and Poonam Gupta, directors of PG Paper, felt compelled to help.

Sadly the couple know how devastating an impact covid can have, having lost relatives to the virus, and their appeal is very close to their heart.

Mrs Gupta, who is leading the appeal, said: “We have been deeply impacted by the crisis in India. Puneet and I have lost close family members, friends, and colleagues. Very quickly we found out what oxygen converters were, spoke to doctors in India and went about sourcing them. I gathered my best team from around the globe. I think the business skills and expertise helped us to make this work in such a short space of time."

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Staff from PG Paper’s head office have been joined in the worldwide quest by colleagues across the firm’s Chinese, Indian, Turkish, and US offices.

The equipment has been delivered and distributed to non-government organisations, hospitals, and covid centres around India in a concerted effort to meet the country’s urgent need for oxygen. The firm even chartered its own flight to deliver 950 oxygen units to Delhi two weeks ago.

"We are very grateful to both the PG Paper team, our wider business communities, and other charitable organisations who working alongside us in this appeal," added Mrs Gupta.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with our colleagues, customers, family, and friends in India. We stand together through this pandemic. For me it has also been a very humbling experience. I family whose mother had received medical help from one of the machines we had helped managed to track us down and wanted to thank us. We can see how it is making a difference to people.”

People queue up to get inoculated against the coronavirus during a special vaccination drive held for those working in various markets in Hyderabad, India.

The couple are proud of everyone's effort in helping source the vital aid.

Mr Gupta said: “Never has PG Paper’s purpose been stronger and clearer than when India announced that it was running out of oxygen in the midst of a huge surge in covid cases.

“We are one of many organisations in the UK and across the world who are working to help ease the time-critical situation there.”

PG Paper is continuing its work to source and deliver oxygen concentrators to countries in need with a further 40 units delivered to Nepal this week.

In their quest to help, PG Paper has been aided by donations which have poured in from friends, family, and businesses across the UK, USA, Hong Kong, Austria, and India.

These include James Kavanagh of Paramount Packaging Ltd who donated 418,000 face shields which have been delivered throughout India.

And David Frederick of Healthcare 21 Group who donated 30,000 hand sanitisers and face masks which are making their way to India at the moment.

Last month Scotland responded by sending life-saving oxygen and ventilation equipment to India as part of a UK-wide effort to support it in its fight against coronavirus.

Following an initial offer of various types of equipment, the Indian High Commission accepted 100 oxygen concentrators and 40 continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) ventilators.

The devices can be used in hospitals, ICU wards or other locations and are ideally suited to treat covid patients when there are constraints on medical gas infrastructure supply.