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Korea’s testing protocols to help Indians abroad: PM Modi discusses COVID-19 with envoys

The PM’s interaction with the envoys, part of a video conference with about 130 Indian envoys across the world, was to discuss responses to the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Written by Shubhajit Roy | New Delhi | Updated: March 31, 2020 8:01:42 am
Prime Minister Narendra Modi. (File Photo)

Testing protocols adopted in South Korea, car-makers in Germany making ventilators, ensuring cooking gas supply from the UAE, medical expertise shared by the US, experiences in Iran and Italy, and a possible “second wave” of the pandemic in China—these were some of ideas and perspectives shared by Indian ambassadors from 10 global hotspots of COVID-19 with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday.

The PM’s interaction with the envoys, part of a video conference with about 130 Indian envoys across the world, was to discuss responses to the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Modi told the Indian envoys that “extraordinary times require extraordinary solutions, which was why even in this globalised era, most of the world had quarantined itself”.

Modi said India had taken “unprecedented” and “early steps” to reduce the risk of importing the infection. “This included the world’s largest quarantine and lock-down, implemented by India,” he told the Indian diplomats.

While complimenting them for their efforts to evacuate Indians stranded abroad, he also exhorted them to ensure their own health and safety, besides that of their teams and families.

He also asked them to attend to Indians who remain in various foreign countries, given the uncertainty of continuing international travel restrictions.

He said they must “stay alert and identify in their countries of accreditation best practices, innovations, scientific breakthroughs and sources to procure medical equipment for India’s fight against COVID-19”.

He also advised them to publicise the newly established PM-CARES Fund to mobilise donations from abroad.

Since this crisis impacts the economy, the PM advised Heads of Mission to also focus on “ensuring that commerce in essential supplies, logistics chains, remittances and so on are unaffected, through their coordination with foreign partners”.

Later, 10 Indian envoys — in Beijing, Washington DC, Tehran, Rome, Berlin, Kathmandu, Abu Dhabi, Kabul, Male and Seoul — offered their perspectives to the PM and the rest of the audience.

What envoys told PM

* While the epidemic is slowing down in China, there is a fear that there could be a “second wave” of the pandemic.

* In the US, where there are about 120,000 cases and 2,000 deaths, the US government has been “quite supportive” and has extended the visas of Indian students and H1B visa holders.

* Those Indians who could not be evacuated from Qom, Iran, are being taken care of.

* There are about 500 Indian students in Iran, and India has provided assistance to them.

* In Germany, where there have been more than 60,000 cases, mortality has been “quite low” and the Indian side is keen to learn about their success. And, India is looking at how German automobile-manufacturers are making ventilators.

* Some Indians are stranded at the Nepal border and the Indian Embassy is reaching out to them.

* There is a lockdown, construction activities, a source of employment for many, are still on. India is also looking at LPG supply from there.

* In Afghanistan, there is a small Indian community whose welfare is being looked after. India will supply food grains.

* Tourism, and thus the economy, have been hit in the Maldives. India is sending medicines, a team of doctors and essential items.

* The high volumes of testing in South Korea calls for a closer study. The country used technical aid and monitored people’s movements under quarantine.

Here’s a quick Coronavirus guide from Express Explained to keep you updated: What can cause a COVID-19 patient to relapse after recovery? | COVID-19 lockdown has cleaned up the air, but this may not be good news. Here’s why | Can alternative medicine work against the coronavirus? | A five-minute test for COVID-19 has been readied, India may get it too | How India is building up defence during lockdown | Why only a fraction of those with coronavirus suffer acutely | How do healthcare workers protect themselves from getting infected? | What does it take to set up isolation wards?

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