PM Modi discusses COVID response with Missions heads

India took preemptive steps in mid-January to contain the spread of the disease, employing a comprehensive response system at its borders much before WHO declared it an international health emergency

March 30, 2020

At the meeting, PM Modi noted that the extraordinary times of Coronavirus crisis required extraordinary solutions

Coronavirus has infected more than 860,000 people in +180 countries, claiming over 42,000 lives in Dec 2019-Mar2020

With a cure believed to be 12-18 months away, the impact of the disease is expected to peak in the coming weeks

The conference was the first such event for Indian Missions worldwide. India has 131 missions and 35 honorary consuls

Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi held a video conference with the heads of all Indian foreign embassies and high commissions on March 30 to discuss responses to the global COVID-19 pandemic. The key conference was the first such event for Indian Missions worldwide. The Government of India currently has 131 missions worldwide as well as 35 honorary consuls. At the meeting, PM Modi noted that the extraordinary times brought forward by the Coronavirus crisis required extraordinary solutions, which was why even in this globalised era, most of the world had quarantined itself

The global pandemic of the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has infected more than 860,000 people in over 180 countries, claiming more than 42,000 lives between December 2019 and March 2020. With a cure believed to be 12-18 months away, the impact of the disease is expected to peak in the coming weeks. India took preemptive steps in mid-January to contain the spread of the disease, employing a comprehensive response system at its borders much before WHO declared it an international health emergency. India has so far reported around 2,000 Coronavirus cases and around 55 deaths. 

On the call, the Prime Minister complimented the heads of missions for their efforts to evacuate Indians stranded abroad in some of the epicenters of the crisis. He also exhorted them to take steps on five key counts:

  • To ensure their health and safety, and that of their teams and families
  • To attend to Indians who remain in various foreign countries, given the uncertainty of continuing international travel restrictions. He called on the heads of Indian missions to help them address issues arising from their unplanned stay abroad, with their host Governments, and also to address other problems Indians might face abroad
  • To stay alert and identify in their countries of accreditation best practices, innovations, scientific breakthroughs and sources to procure medical equipment for India’s fight against COVID-19. He also advised the heads of mission to suitably publicize the newly-established PM-CARES Fund to mobilize donations from abroad
  • Since this crisis also impacts upon the economy, PM advised heads of mission to focus on ensuring that commerce in essential supplies, logistics chains, remittances and so on are unaffected, through their coordination with foreign partners
  • To continue to pay close attention to the evolving international political and economic situation, especially in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic

In response, ten Heads of Mission, in Beijing, Washington DC, Tehran, Rome, Berlin, Kathmandu, Abu Dhabi, Kabul, Male, and Seoul offered their perspectives to the PM and the rest of the audience. They shared feedback regarding appreciation in their countries of accreditation of the resolute measures taken by India to combat this pandemic. The heads of Missions outlined their efforts to help Indians stranded abroad, in particular, students and workers. They also reported efforts to identify medicine, technologies, research, and other measures that might help India fight the pandemic. 

Heads of Mission also reported lessons learned in other countries, and their best practices, in the global fight against COVID-19. From India’s neighbourhood, heads of mission underlined measures to assist the national responses of those countries, using the special fund created at India’s initiative for SAARC countries to combat COVID-19. In conclusion, the Prime Minister emphasized that India’s Missions abroad may well be far from home, but they remain full participants in India’s fight against COVID-19. He emphasized that the unity and alertness of all Indians would help safeguard the nation’s future.