The Indian Army is readying separate teams to be deployed in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Afghanistan to help those countries boost capabilities to deal with rising cases of coronavirus, official sources said on Tuesday, according to the Press Trust of India.
A 14-member Indian Army team was sent to Maldives last month to help the island nation set up coronavirus testing laboratories and train local medical professionals to fight the pandemic.
Earlier this month, India dispatched a 15-member team of Army to Kuwait as part of bilateral cooperation between the two countries.
The sources said the teams for Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Afghanistan are being readied as part of India’s policy of extending helping hand to all friendly countries in the region to fight the pandemic.
India has also been playing a key role in pushing for a common framework in fighting the pandemic in the SAARC region.
At a video-conference on March 15, Prime Minister Narendra Modi pitched for formulating a joint strategy to fight COVID-19 in the SAARC region and proposed an emergency fund with an initial offer of USD 10 million from India. It is understood that India has already made the contribution.
The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is a grouping comprising Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
All the SAARC member nations are reeling under adverse social and economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
As part of its policy to help friendly countries to deal with the pandemic, India is also supplying anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine to 55 countries. A number of countries including the U.S., Mauritius and Seychelles have already received the drug.
Hydroxychloroquine has been identified by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as a possible treatment for COVID-19 and it is being tested on more than 1,500 coronavirus patients in New York.
The demand for the drug has swelled rapidly after India decided to lift a ban on its export.
In the neighbourhood, India is sending the drug to Afghanistan, Bhutan, Bangladesh Nepal, Maldives, Mauritius, Sri Lanka and Myanmar, sources said, according to the Press Trust of India.