Cambs EastEnders star makes urgent India Covid-19 video appeal

Cambridgeshire film star Himesh Patel is urging people to help alleviate the Covid-19 catastrophe in India.

The actor from Sawtry, who shot to fame playing Tamwar Masood on EastEnders, has filmed a powerful short video in support of the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC)’s appeal, released pn Friday (May 14).

The DEC – comprising 14 leading UK charities including the British Red Cross – has raised £50 million since its coronavirus appeal launched last July; £5 million for India since extending its aid to the Covid-stricken country from late April.

Additional funds are needed as 380,000 people on average a day in India contract Covid and close to 4,000 people die daily from the virus, according to the DEC.

Patel, 30, made his video appearance from Toronto, where he is currently filming for new TV series station eleven, following recent roles in Avenue 5 and The Luminaries.

Himesh Patel starred in the 2019 Beatles comedy film Yesterday, and appeared in Tenet last year.
(Image: Getty Images)

He said: “Like so many people both at home in the UK and around the world, I have been deeply saddened by the scenes from India of people being unable to get the care they so desperately need as they battle coronavirus.

“Family and friends with relatives in the country have been telling me that the reality is as bad as, if not worse than, what we have seen on our screens.”

India’s official death toll surpassed 250,000 last week, as its deadly second wave engulfs the country’s poor medical infrastructure.

“But what has also struck me is the outpouring of solidarity,” Patel added, “not just from the British Indian community, but from people across the UK as the full horror unfolds of what this pandemic looks like when it spirals out of control and a health system is unable to cope.

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“So many have suffered in the UK and yet still have so much to give, rallying to help others as they face their darkest hours.

“That’s why I’ve joined with the Disasters Emergency Committee to appeal for donations so that the DEC’s member charities, including the British Red Cross, CARE International and Save the Children, can continue to rapidly scale up their efforts delivering medical supplies, treatment facilities and other urgently needed aid to India’s most vulnerable communities.”

DEC charities have already been responding to the most urgent needs facing vulnerable communities and the £5 million raised so far is being used to set up temporary Covid hospitals and isolation facilities, supply oxygen concentrators to government hospitals, provide helpline advice to families suffering with Covid at home, as well as supplying food and vouchers to people unable to work.

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Anand Kumar, Honorary Director of PHIA, one of DEC member Christian Aid’s local partners, described the situation on the ground.

“We are gasping for oxygen,” he said. “It is horrifying that people are dying because of lack of essential medical facilities. The pandemic has reached rural areas where the health infrastructure is not so strong.”

He continued: “But, the aid is getting through and we are grateful to each and every person who has donated. When times are difficult every human hand needs to come together to help save lives.”

Thanking Patel, who trained at the Young Actors’ Company in Cambridge, DEC Chief Executive Saleh Saeed said: “I am therefore hugely thankful for Himesh’s support in helping us continue to highlight the urgency of the situation in India. Please continue to give as generously as you can.”

You can find out more about the DEC Coronavirus Appeal, and make a donation on the website here .

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