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India to join Covid-19 video conference organised by China

Officials from India and other South Asian countries will participate in a video conference being organised by China on Friday to discuss ways to prevent and control Coronavirus infections, people familiar with developments said.

The holding of the video conference was announced on Twitter by China’s ambassador to India, Sun Weidong.

“China will hold a video conference with more than 10 countries in the Eurasian [region] and South Asia on prevention & control of #Covid-19 today. China will support & assist its friendly neighbors in the spirit of solidarity amid adversity,” Sun tweeted.

The people cited above, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said an official of the rank of joint secretary from India’s health ministry is expected to join the video conference, which will in the afternoon. A total of about 18 countries are expected to participate in the video conference, they said.

The participants will share best practices and experiences of their countries in controlling the spread of Covid-19 and discuss the way forward in tackling the devastation caused by the Coronavirus, the people said.

China’s video conference comes five days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi organised a video conference of leaders of the eight member states of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc). India also announced the setting up of a $10-million Covid emergency fund and offered to despatch rapid response teams to Saarc member states.

India has already received requests for aid worth more than $1 million dollars and it has despatched supplies to the Maldives and Bhutan. Requests for rapid response teams from the Maldives and Nepal are being followed up.

On Thursday, China’s foreign ministry told media that the country could help with control and diagnosis of the disease in India.

“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 foreign ministry said in a statement.

“China and India, the only two major countries with more than 1 billion people, face common challenges in public health,” it said.

When additional secretary Dammu Ravi, the external affairs ministry’s pointperson for Covid-19-related matters, was asked at a news briefing on Thursday if India could learn from China’s experiences, he replied: “We should always be studying the best practices around the world and see if they have been helpful in any country.We should also see to what extent we can introduce [them] in our situation.

“Each region or a country has its own challenges but it’s important to study them and to see to what extent they are practically implementable in our country.”

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