NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday suggested the creation of special visas for doctors and nurses in neighbouring countries to help them respond to health emergencies in the region more effectively.
The prime minister was addressing a workshop, initiated by India, on Covid management. “Over the past year, our health cooperation has already achieved so much. Can we now think of raising our ambition further? Can we consider creating a special visa scheme for our doctors and nurses, so that they can travel quickly within our region during health emergencies, on the request of the receiving country?” he said.
The workshop assumed significance as for the first time in years, Pakistan attended an event initiated by India. Representatives of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Mauritius, Nepal, Seychelles and Sri Lanka participated.
Modi made a slew of other suggestions, including the creation of an air ambulance agreement and a platform for collating, compiling and studying data about the effectiveness of Covid vaccines among the population. Recalling how a Covid-19 Emergency Fund was created last year by the SAARC member states, he sought cooperation for rapid deployment of vaccines.
All countries, including Pakistan, supported Modi’s proposals, said sources. They suggested a structured discussion for regional cooperation on these proposals to take them forward. All countries, except Pakistan, thanked India and Modi for vaccine supply, and of medicines, equipment and training in the past.
Lockdowns back in parts of maharashtra
With fresh Covid cases spiralling again, Maharashtra ordered a 10-day lockdown in Yavatmal district from Thursday night. Also, weekend lockdown was announced in Amravati district from 8 pm on Saturday to 7 am on Monday. The state reported 4,787 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, the highest one-day count this year