Indian prime minister Narendra Modi on Monday assured the Maldives of New Delhi’s continued support as the tiny Indian Ocean atoll nation tries to cope with the challenges posed by the novel coronavirus.
In a telephone conversation with Maldivian president Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, Modi acknowledged the “special challenges” that the pandemic poses for a tourism-dependent economy like the Maldives, a statement from India’s foreign ministry said.
Modi “assured the Maldivian President of continued Indian support for minimising the health and economic impact of covid-19,” it said adding that both leaders “agreed that their officials would remain in touch on issues arising out of the present health crisis, as well as other aspects of bilateral cooperation.”
Modi was “happy to hear that the Indian medical team deployed earlier to Maldives, and the essential medicines gifted by India, had contributed towards controlling the spread of the infection in the islands,” the statement added.
The reference was to India’s dispatch of an army medical team to the Maldives last month after the atoll nation best known for its white sands and palm-fringed atolls, reported its first case at the beginning of March when two employees of an island resort tested positive. On Friday, the Maldivian Health Protection Agency issued strict stay-at-home orders for Male, home to 40% of the country’s population of 450,000, fearing a big outbreak in the congested city.
According to a person familiar with the development, Indian medical teams are on standby to render further assistance to the Maldives and other neighbours of India, should the need arise.