Barclays donates £1m to help fight against COVID in India

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·Senior City Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
·2 min read
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A COVID-19 patient receives oxygen inside a car provided by a Gurdwara, a Sikh house of worship, in New Delhi, India. Photo: Altaf Qadri/AP
A COVID-19 patient receives oxygen inside a car provided by a Gurdwara, a Sikh house of worship, in New Delhi, India. Photo: Altaf Qadri/AP

Barclays (BARC.L) has donated £1m ($1.4m) to India to help the country tackle its ongoing devastating COVID-19 outbreak.

The UK bank on Friday said it had made the donation through the £100m charitable fund set up by Barclays last year to tackle COVID-19. The funds will be used to buy medical equipment.

"We are very focused on India right now," Barclays chief executive Jes Staley told journalists on Friday. 

India is experiencing the world's worst COVID-19 outbreak, reporting over 300,000 new cases a day and rising. Earlier this week deaths passed 200,000 and the country is facing shortages of essential equipment such as oxygen.

Watch: Barclays Chief India Economist Bajoria on India's Growth Outlook

READ MORE: What India's COVID disaster means for the world economy

Governments around the world have begun to ship emergency supplies to India to help it manage the crisis. Staley said he hoped Barclays' donation would help "at the margins".

"There's extraordinary hardship going on there right now," Staley said. "India's a very tough place right now."

Barclays employs 20,000 people in India in roles such as call centre staff, finance, and compliance. Just under a quarter of the bank's total staff are based there and Staley said the country was of critical importance to the bank.

"We're very mindful that a number of employees need to stay home now, they've got family that is sick and they need to take care of," Staley said. "We want to keep paying them but allow them to help their families manage through this pandemic.

READ MORE: Barclays says UK set for best year since 1948 as profits surge

Staley described huge pressures on operation as staff struggled to work while taking care of loved ones and consumer calls surged "at an incredible rate."

Barclays has shifted some operations to the UK to help alleviate the pressure. Bank branch employees in Britain have been drafted in to help answer calls, for example.

"I can't underscore enough how great our employees have been during the pandemic," Staley said.

The disclosure of the donation came as Barclays reported on its first quarter results. The bank reported its best profit in a decade thanks to booming business at its investment bank.

Watch: India COVID deaths climb as global aid flown in 

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