Maldivian authorities commenced efforts to procure essential medicine from India following disruptions in shipment due to the travel restrictions implemented by the Indian government over the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, shipments of medicine ordered by the State Trading Organization (STO) from five Indian cities remained ready for transport. However, following India's announcement of a 21-day national lockdown, the medicine has yet to arrive in Maldives.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdulla Shahid discussed the matter with Indian External Affairs Minister Dr Subrahmanyam Jaishankar via telephone.
During the conversation the two ministers also deliberated on ensuring uninterrupted supplies of essential medicine to Maldives.
On March 14, the Indian government donated a three month supply of essential medicine to Maldives in order to boost the country's capacity to combat the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Furthermore, the first batch of emergency staple provisions from India arrived in Maldives on Saturday. Consisting of 933 tones of rice and 500 tonnes of sugar, the shipment was sent from Tuticorin Port, Thoothukudi.
The High Commission of India confirmed that an additional shipment carrying 1500 tonnes of rice and 500 tonnes of sugar had departed India.
Speaking to The Edition, the Indian High Commission asserted that, "India remains committed to ensuring essential supplies to the Maldives at this difficult time".
Maldives now has 17 confirmed and six active cases of COVID-19, with a total of 11 recoveries. While there are two confirmed cases of Maldivians, no local to local transmissions are recorded.
The World Health Organization has classified the spread of COVID-19 as a global pandemic. The novel coronavirus has infected over 677,700 people and claimed over 31,700 lives around the world. However, out of those infected, more than 146, 000 people have recovered.