Democracies like US, India should lead efforts to combat COVID-19: US State Dept spokesperson

By Reena Bhardwaj

Washington DC [USA], Mar 27 (ANI): Democracies like the United States and India should lead the effort around the world to combat the coronavirus pandemic, Morgan Ortagus, the spokesperson for the US State Department said on Thursday.

"Other democracies that are joining us in this fight, and this time for all of us, are fully transparent into doing our best practices, this is a pandemic and this won't be the last one. We have had SARS, Ebola, and now COVID-19. I think it's upon democracies like America and India to lead an effort around the world," Ortagus said.

"America and India have close ties, we have many Indian-Americans, many people who live and go back and forth between our two countries and it is certainly helpful when we have countries like India and South Korea fighting this together," she added.

Talking on India's decision to impose nation-wide lockdown, Ortagus said: "The United States is super supportive of the fact that he (Prime Minister Narendra Modi) is taking it so seriously and putting the lives of the Indian people first."

"The United States was one of the first countries in the world to stop travel from China and later to Europe. Some of those decisions were controversialist in hindsight, now the world sees that they were incredibly timely. State Department had also issued a level four travel advisory, we were urging Americans not to travel overseas," she added.

Answering a question on visa restriction imposed by the US due to the outbreak, she added: "In the middle of a pandemic, people are going to be nervous, especially if they are on this non-immigrant status. They should talk to the authorities. The authorities are going to work carefully with all visa holders to make sure that no one is penalized."

On the issue of collaborating with India to combat COVID-19, she said: "US Secretary Micheal Pompeo has been talking with India's external affairs minister, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, and we are focused on how to collaborate with pharmaceutical companies. Also, we are making sure that the people of our two countries remain as healthy as possible. This is obviously a global pandemic of a scale that we have never seen before."

Over the possible trade of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved COVID-19 testing kit, she said: "We are working incredibly closely on the government and private sector. The scientists of the two countries are collaborating on medical equipment and supplies." (ANI)