09 April 2020
New Delhi/Moscow: India and Russia on Thursday agreed to facilitate each other's emergent needs of medicine and equipment to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.
Official sources told IANS that India's Foreign Secretary Harsh Shringla and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov held a telephonic conversation on Thursday to discuss the evolving situation related to the spread of the deadly virus.
Both of them exchanged notes on the national efforts underway in their respective countries to contain the outbreak of Covid-19.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the issue through a teleconference last month on March 25.
Shringla and Morgulov stressed on the close bilateral cooperation between the two countries in ensuring the welfare of each other's citizens in their respective countries. There are around 15,000 Indian students in Russia and about 5,000 Russian tourists in India. Morgulov also thanked Shringla for facilitating the evacuation of Russian nationals from India.
Referring to the Russian chairmanship of BRICS and SCO, Morgulov informed Shringla of various preparatory meetings which would continue to take place through video conferencing in the coming days.
The telephonic discussion between Shringla and Morgulov came two days after India, in view of the humanitarian aspects of the pandemic, decided to lift the ban on the export of Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ). HCQ is being used to treat Covid-19 patients and as prophylactic by the frontline healthcare workers deployed in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. The Modi government had imposed a ban on export of the drug since the coronavirus outbreak hit India.
The government is now licencing paracetamol and HCQ in appropriate quantities to neighbouring countries which are dependent on Indian capabilities and also supplying the drugs to the US and some other nations badly affected by the pandemic.
Russia as of now has over 10,000 Covid-19 positive cases while 76 people have succumbed to the dreaded virus. In India, 186 people have died so far while over 6,200 persons have tested positive for Covid-19.