About 60,000 foreign nationals from 72 countries have been evacuated from India amid the nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19, the government said on Thursday.
Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said the issue of evacuation of Indians stranded abroad is also “under discussion”. “We understand their predicament.the issue is under consultation and discussion is underway,” he said in response to questions at an online briefing.
He said all Indian missions are extending every possible assistance to the diaspora community.
It is learnt that the government is working on a mega plan to deploy naval ships as well as military and commercial aircraft to evacuate Indians stranded in the Gulf and other regions after the lockdown ends.
Srivastava said India has provided 2.8 million Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) tablets as grant assistance to 25 countries. “We have also provided paracetamol, about 1.9 million tablets as well as in another form to 31 countries. In addition, consignments of HCQ and of paracetamol are being sent to 87 countries on a commercial basis,” the MEA spokesperson said.
He added that secretaries in the Ministry have held meetings through video-conference with groups of Resident Ambassadors of foreign missions in Delhi and briefed them about the COVID-19 situation in the country and measures being taken to combat it. “Through the Resident Ambassadors, we thanked the foreign governments for taking care of Indians citizens, including students, stranded in their countries,” Srivastava said.
The MEA Covid-19 Control Room has remained “very active”, he said. “It has received more than 10,000 calls and 30,000 e-mails till date. We have responded promptly to requests for deployment of Rapid Response Teams (RRTs) comprising doctors, nurses and paramedics to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. These RRTs have so far been deployed in Maldives and Kuwait at the request of their governments. These RRTs have helped to train and exchange best practices with local medical professionals on various aspects of dealing with the pandemic. They have provided training on testing, critical care nursing, oxygen therapy isolation systems, infection prevention,” he added.
On China’s criticism of the decision by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) to stop the use of rapid testing kits supplied by two Chinese companies, the MEA spokesperson said the matter is being handled by the medical body.
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