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India to provide humanitarian aid to Maldives over COVID-19 outbreak

Fathmath Shaahunaz
12 March 2020, MVT 13:42
President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih (L) and Indian High Commissioner Sunjay Sudhir. FILE PHOTO: NISHAN ALI / MIHAARU
Fathmath Shaahunaz
12 March 2020, MVT 13:42

The government of India will extend immediate humanitarian assistance to Maldives to tackle the island nation's COVID-19 situation, announced the Indian High Commission on Thursday.

In a press release, the High Commission declared that a Composite COVID-19 medical relief team from India is scheduled to arrive in Maldives on Friday. The team comprising pulmonologists, anaesthetists, physicians and lab-technicians will work closely with Maldivian health authorities to deal with the evolving situation.

In addition, the Indian government will donate essential medicines to treat COVID-19 over the coming days. Noting India's temporary export ban on these medicines, the High Commission stated that India is making exception for Maldives as a special goodwill gesture to its government and people, adding that it is a notable example of India's 'Neighbourhood First' and Maldives' 'India First' policies.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdulla Shahid also announced Thursday that India would grant certain visa exceptions to Maldivians despite the Indian administration temporarily halting the issuance of visas over the COVID-19 outbreak.

In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan of Hubei Province, China, the Indian government evacuated nine Maldivians residing in the city, with the first seven evacuated on February 2, and the rest on February 27. The Maldivians were quarantined for 14 days in New Delihi and were safely flown back into Maldives.

The Indian government also provided 30,000 doses of Measles vaccines earlier in January to combat the outbreak in Maldives, more than two years after the archipelago was declared Measles-free by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Currently there are eight confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Maldives, with four foreign nationals from Kuredu Island Resort, and two from Sandies Bathala and Kuramathi Maldives each. Although the resorts were put on lockdown, Kuredu being the first last weekend, Health Protection Agency (HPA) lifted the restrictive measures this Wednesday.

WHO has classified the spread of COVID-19 as a pandemic. The novel coronavirus has infected more than 126,200 and claimed over 4,600 lives around the world. Out of those infected, more than 68,200 have recovered.

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