Modi pledges to stand by ‘close neighbor and friend’ Maldives amid COVID-19 pandemic

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (L) is seen off at Velana International Airport by Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih on June 9, 2019. (Photo/President's Office)

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Monday, said that India was committed to standing by Maldives as both countries battle outbreaks of COVID-19.

He made the remark in a tweet following a phone call between him and Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih during which they discussed the COVID-19 pandemic and the health and economic challenges it posed for Maldives.

“The special bond between India and Maldives strengthens our resolve to fight this common enemy together.  India will stand by its close maritime neighbor and friend in this challenging time,” said Modi in his tweet.

Solih responded that it had been ‘a pleasure to call my friend @narendramodi a short while ago and discuss our respective national efforts to combat COVID 19’.

He said they discussed possible cooperation from India to aid the Maldives’ in halting the spread of the virus.

India has announced it will continue to facilitate essential goods to Maldives despite the lockdown in the country.

India had donated three months’ supply of essential medicine to Maldives in March, and deployed an Indian Air Force aircraft to deliver 6.2 tonnes of medicine procured by State Trading Organization (STO) which had been held up four different Indian cities due to the lockdown in April.

It has also issued a special permit to ensure a steady supply of medicine which it has halted exporting and food products to Maldives.

52 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Maldives, among them two Indian nationals who work in Male’. While cases previously had been isolated to tourist resorts and safaris, the virus has now spread to the populous capital and at least one other residential island located in the north.

The number of cases in India stands at 17,615, and the death toll stands at 559.