Coronavirus: India imposes restrictions on export of medical equipment to China

Akriti Dixit

New Delhi, Feb 24: In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, India has imposed restrictions on export of certain medical equipment to China on Sunday. It is done in view of their short supply within the country and asserted that precautions taken by authorities were in accordance with the World Health Organisation (WHO)'s advisory on coronavirus.

On Sunday, the comments by the Spokesperson in the Ministry of External Affairs came after China raised the issue of India restricting export of certain medical supplies to it following the coronavirus epidemic in that country.

Earlier, the Chinese Embassy spokesperson Ji Rong had said, "It is hoped that the Indian side could review the epidemic situation in an objective, rational and calm manner, handle with China's much-needed items in a cooperative and constructive way, and resume normal personnel exchanges and trade between our two countries as soon as possible."

The Chinese Embassy spokesperson said that the WHO has repeatedly opposed any travel and trade restrictions on China following the coronavirus outbreak and that all parties should follow the recommendations by the global body.

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MEA Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar, replying to the query on the issue said that the precautions have been taken by India are in accordance with the WHO advisory about the outbreak of coronavirus infection.

He said some restrictions have been imposed on the export of certain medical equipment to China in view of shortage of their supply in India too.

The MEA spokesperson further added, "Just like any other country, India with a billion plus population has the responsibility to take the necessary measures to combat the spread of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak which, if not properly managed, can become a global risk."

He also said that responding to the needs of China, India had allowed a one time exemption for the export of some items which had been restricted.

Kumar also mentioned about Prime Minister Narendra Modi's letter to Chinese President Xi Jinping earlier this month, offering India''s assistance to China in the "hour of need".

He also referred to India's decision to send medical relief on board a special flight to China and hoped that the Chinese authorities will give permission for the aircraft to go to the country.

"In a humanitarian gesture of medical relief, a gift reflecting the solidarity of the people of India with the people of China, is expected to be delivered to Wuhan by a special flight," Kumar added.

On Saturday, government sources said that China was "deliberately delaying" permission for the Indian Air Force plane to coronavirus-hit Wuhan to supply relief materials and bring back more Indians from the city.

They said though flights from Japan, Ukraine and France were allowed to operate from Wuhan, Indian request was not heeded to so far.

Last week, Chinese Ambassador Sun Weidong urged India to review restrictions on trade and movement of people.

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According to the PTI report, almost all Indian airlines have stopped flights to China while the government has cancelled all e-visas as well as normal visas issued to Chinese citizens.

India has reportedly evacuated over 640 Indians from Wuhan, the epicentre of coronavirus outbreak, in two separate flights.

However, latest report estimates, over 100 Indians are still stuck in Wuhan.

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