60,000 foreigners evacuated from India in view of Covid-19: MEA

NEW DELHI: Some 60,000 foreigners from 72 countries have been evacuated from India amid the shutdown, the ministry said Thursday.

Anurag Srivastava, the ministry spokesman, said the issue of evacuation of stranded Indians abroad is also under discussion and that all Indian missions are extending all possible aid to the diaspora.

The matter is receiving the attention of the government . It would be premature for me to detail plans for his return at this stage, the Foreign Ministry spokesman said at an online press conference.

But what I can tell you is that this is something that is under consultation. There are ongoing discussions. Simultaneously, our missions have been making exceptional efforts to address the situation, he added.

It is learnt that the government is working on a mega plan to deploy a raft of naval ships as well as military and commercial aircraft to evacuate thousands of India ns stranded in the Gulf and other regions after the nationwide lockdown ends.

Srivastava said India has been in contact with its friends and partners around the world as part of its collaborative approach to tackle the pandemic.

As part of the government 's outreach, he said secretaries in the Ministry of External Affairs held a series of meetings through video-conference with groups of ambassadors of foreign missions and they were briefed about prevailing Covid-19 situation as well as measures taken to mitigate its negative impact on the vulnerable sections of the society and on the economy at large.

He said the envoys expressed deep appreciation for the way the fight against the pandemic in India is handled.

The MEA spokesman said that some 60,000 foreigners from 72 countries have been evacuated.

Meanwhile, the United Kingdom announced that it will operate additional flights to evacuate more than 2,000 people from India.

Our charter flight program has already helped more than 10,000 British travelers return home from India by ensuring that flights to the UK have been made every day since April 8 ... These additional flights will help more than 2,000 more people return to their loved ones here UK, said Tariq Ahmad, UK Minister of State for South Asia and the Commonwealth.

Facing China's criticism of the Indian Medical Research Council's decision to suspend the use of the COVID-19 rapid test kits supplied by two Chinese companies, the MEA spokesman said the matter is being handled by the main medical body.

The ICMR on Monday called on states and union territories to stop using test kits purchased from Chinese companies Guangzhou Wondfo Biotech and Diagnostics due to wide variations in performance.

Srivastava said that India has provided 2.8 million hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) tablets and 1.9 million paracetamol tablets to various countries as part of its assistance.

We have already provided 2.8 million HCQ tablets as grant assistance to 25 countries. We have also provided paracetamol, about 1.9 million tablets, as well as in other ways to 31 countries. Additionally, shipments of HCQ and acetaminophen are being shipped to 87 countries on a commercial basis, he said.

HCQ has been identified by the United States Food and Drug Administration as a possible treatment for Covid-19.