Humanitarian organisation Gift of the Givers is calling on the public for donations for its intervention in India, where there has been a surge in Covid-19 cases.

The country had more than 18 million cases by Thursday and hospitals and mortuaries reported that they were overwhelmed. On the same day, India recorded 379 257 new infections and 3 645 deaths.

The organisation has a campaign to supply the Indian government with oxygen and South African-made CPAP machines.

"The world is watching a catastrophe unfolding in India. A Covid-19 tsunami has struck the country, the official figures [are] nowhere near the real tragedy," said Gift of the Givers founder, Dr Imtiaz Sooliman.

"Healthcare workers and the population are on edge, exhausted and burnt out. They need humanity to respond. Gift of the Givers is in discussion with the Indian government and Dirco (Department of International Relations and Cooperation) to intervene decisively, practically and effectively. The request is very simple: 'We need oxygen and oxygen delivery devices. We have everything else'," he said.

The organisation is calling on the public to donate towards the purchase of oxygen concentrators, which Gift of the Givers is busy procuring, and CPAP machines, which deliver a flow of concentrated oxygenated air to patients.

"Oxygen concentrators will be purchased initially, followed by the purchase of CPAP machines if the important policy issues around it could be resolved," he added.

"Intense discussion on registration, permits, procurement and acceptance are [ongoing]."

Donations can be made directly to the Gift of the Givers.