COVID-19: New Zealand High Commission in India in hot water for issuing oxygen plea on Twitter

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has confirmed a worker at the New Zealand High Commission in India is "very unwell" after a plea for oxygen was made via social media. 

The commission asked the Indian Youth Congress (IYC) on Twitter to urgently deliver an oxygen cylinder.

Video posted later showed a cylinder being delivered at the commission's gates in New Delhi.

The president of the IYC posted on Twitter claiming a person inside the embassy was critically ill with COVID-19. New Zealand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) would not confirm those claims, but Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern confirmed to The AM Show a worker was "very unwell".

MFAT said an apology has been made to the Indian Government over the tweet while Ardern said the commission breached protocol by posting the plea on Twitter.

"The reason that they've [the High Commission] apologised is because they've openly acknowledged that they had ways and means, through the Government, that they could access support," Ardern told The AM Show.

"Ultimately, the cause for that call [was] they do have a very unwell local staff member.

"In India, we have a New Zealand compound - it will include both New Zealand staff seconded into India but it will also include some local employees."

The commission claims its Twitter post was misinterpreted. MFAT says the tweet was issued in error and it's apologised to the Indian Government.

It comes as India struggles to source enough oxygen for COVID-19 patients as daily case numbers soar past 400,000.

"The tweet was issued in error on the New Zealand High Commission's Twitter account," an MFAT spokesperson told Newshub.  "It has since been withdrawn and we have apologised, including to the Indian Government, for the misunderstanding it may have caused.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."

Deaths from COVID-19 in India jumped by a record 3689 on Sunday (local time) and authorities reported 392,488 new infections. The country recorded more than 400,000 daily cases for the first time on Saturday.