India hands over first batch of HCQ to Egypt, offers to train healthcare professionals

New Delhi, Delhi, IndiaWritten By: Sidhant SibalUpdated: May 06, 2020, 05:50 PM IST


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Indian envoy to Egypt Rahul Kulshreshth also said New Delhi has shared its 'governance response' to COVID-19 with Egyptian authorities

India has handed over the batch of medicines including HCQ to Egypt even as it has offered to train Egyptian health ministry officials under its e-ITEC programmes on COVID-19 management strategies. 

Speaking exclusively to our diplomatic correspondent Sidhant Sibal from Cairo, Indian envoy to Egypt Rahul Kulshreshth also said New Delhi has shared its "governance response" to COVID-19 with Egyptian authorities. 

In fact, a few Egyptian dailies – Daily News and Al Masry Al Youm have carried information on India’s pre-emptive and proactive measures. Around 260 Indian nationals, mostly tourists, businessmen, professionals are stranded in Egypt. 

WION: The role played by the Indian mission in Egypt in taking care of Indian citizens?

Rahul Kulshreshth: Our embassy began monitoring the COVID-19 situation in Egypt around mid-February, particularly in view of outbound tourism from India to Egypt. 

In early March, a group of Indian tourists were placed in isolation on a river cruise boat in Luxor, along with other tourists on board the vessel. 

Our officials maintained regular contact with the group and also followed up on their welfare and needs with the Egyptian Ministries of Tourism and Health and the tour operator, and coordinated their return to India after PCR testing. 

One Indian tourist, who was part of the same group, tested positive for COVID-19 and was shifted to a quarantine facility by Egyptian authorities. 

Here again, the embassy remained in regular touch with him, the Egyptian health ministry and the designated quarantine hospital till he recovered and returned to India. There were a couple of other cases in March, till international flights were suspended by Egyptian authorities on March 19 and tourists being placed in isolation or visitors from India facing difficulty with air tickets and here too our officials extended necessary assistance. 

Unfortunately, one Indian national succumbed to COVID-19. We have extended necessary assistance to his family.  For over the past month and a half we have maintained personal contact with the Indian Community Association and its members as well as student representatives. 

Likewise, we have also maintained contact with Indian nationals stranded in Egypt to ascertain their welfare. Advisories have been issued by both Egyptian and Indian authorities have been regularly shared with the Indian community in Egypt. 
Embassy helpline numbers, details of designated officials handling COVID-19 related issues have been repeatedly publicized on the Mission’s website, Facebook and Twitter handles. 

Consular services continue to be provided by the Mission, albeit in a limited fashion, in line with the precautions necessitated by the current situation. 

We have a small but cohesive Indian community in Egypt that has a record of always helping and assisting Indian nationals in distress situations and supporting the embassy’s efforts.

WION: How many Indians were impacted by COVID-19?

Rahul Kulshreshth: There are about 260 Indian nationals stranded in Egypt. This includes tourists, businessmen, professionals who were on assignments and a few who have reported job losses. In addition, there are 350 Indian students in Egyptian universities.

WION: How are India and Egypt collaborating in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic?

Rahul Kulshreshth: Egypt is a close friend and one of our key partners in the region. On April 17, 2020, India's Prime Minister Modi had a telephone conversation with H.E. Mr. Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, President of Egypt, which was widely covered in Egyptian media. 

The leaders discussed the evolving global situation, exchanged information about the steps taken in India and Egypt to deal with the coronavirus outbreak, and agreed on the utility of continuous exchange of experiences and best-practices. 

Prime Minister Modi also conveyed India's support in terms of pharmaceutical supplies during these difficult times. A first batch of medicines (HCQ and paracetamol tablets) as gift from the people and government of India has been handed over to the Egyptian Embassy in New Delhi. Other requirements are under process. 

The MEA has been coordinating with the Egyptian embassy in New Delhi to facilitate the smooth evacuation of Egyptian nationals stranded in India as well as of Egyptian nationals from Bangladesh via India. We have also invited the Egyptian Health Ministry to participate in the e-ITEC short training live webinars for healthcare professionals on COVID-19 management strategies and related aspects organized under our ITEC programme.  

WION: What do you think about the Egyptian model and have we shared any Indian model?

Rahul Kulshreshth: Egyptian government’s response to COVID-19 in terms of detection, testing, isolation, quarantine, contact-tracing and referral of positive cases has earned praise from WHO. 

Egypt has also taken a number of measures and initiatives to stimulate the national economy, drawing praise from the IMF. The approach has been proactive and decisive, and measures that have been taken are being updated not only to deal with the current situation but also with an eye to the future. 

We have shared information in respect of our governance response to COVID-19 with Egyptian authorities as well as the Indian community in Egypt. A few Egyptian dailies – Daily News and Al Masry Al Youm – carried information on India's pre-emptive and proactive measures.