China on Thursday said it was ready to share its experience of “epidemic prevention” with New Delhi as the coronavirus pandemic looks to grip India and it announces aggressive containment measures against it.
The Chinese foreign ministry said it could help with both the “control” and “diagnosis” of the spread of the disease in India.
Saying it “admires and appreciates” the support from the Indian society in its fight against the novel coronavirus or Covid-19 crisis, the ministry added that China guarantees the “health and safety” of Indian citizens in China.
Beijing made the overture to New Delhi on a day when China reported zero domestic transmissions for the first time since the Covid-19 outbreak started, emerging from the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year and then blowing up into a pandemic within several weeks.
It was a change of tact from Beijing, which less than a month before had seemingly delayed the third Indian relief-evacuation flight to and from the outbreak epicentre Wuhan following New Delhi’s decision to ban the export of protective clothing to all countries including China in January.
“China is ready to continue to share its experience in epidemic prevention and control and diagnosis and treatment with the Indian side, and will provide further support and assistance within its capacity according to the needs of the Indian side,” the Chinese foreign ministry told HT in a statement.
“China and India, the only two major countries with more than 1 billion people, face common challenges in public health,” the statement said.
At the peak of the outbreak in February, China was reporting thousands of new cases of infection and hundreds of deaths in a day.
That number has dramatically fallen, the Chinese government says because of the stringent measures it took to contain the disease in Hubei while it is spreading like wildfire globally.
“At present, the new outbreak of pneumonia in many parts of the world, the epidemic prevention situation is grim”.
The foreign ministry said the Chinese embassy in New Delhi was in contact with health authorities in India to keep New Delhi informed about the evolving coronavirus outbreak situation in China.
“The Chinese embassy in India has established a contact mechanism with the Indian health authorities to keep the Indian side informed of the situation and progress in a timely manner,” the statement said.
India was one of the first countries to issue travel advisories and put in place a surveillance system at airports for travellers coming in from China in January.
“Since the outbreak of the new pneumonia, China and India have actively conducted communication and cooperation on epidemic prevention and control,” the statement said.
It added that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had sent a letter of condolence to President Xi Jinping on the crisis, and foreign minister S Jaishankar had a telephone conversation with state councilor and foreign minister, Wang Yi on it.
“The Indian side has also provided medical supplies to China. We admire and appreciate the support from all sectors of the Indian society for China’s anti-epidemic efforts in various ways,” the foreign ministry said.
The Indian government had sent 15 tons of medical supplies to China on an Indian Air Force flight that also took back about a 100 Indians from Wuhan and Hubei on its way back in the last week of February.
The Indian medical assistance to China comprised “…masks, gloves and other emergency medical equipment”.
“This assistance has been provided in the wake the Corona virus (Covid 19) outbreak in China and the request by China to provide supplies such as masks and medical equipment,” an Indian government statement had then said.
Earlier in February, New Delhi evacuated more than 300 Indians in two special Air India flights from Wuhan.