Boris Johnson calls PM Modi to discuss coronavirus crisis


File photo: British PM Boris Johnson and PM Modi (AFP Photo)

File photo: British PM Boris Johnson and PM Modi (AFP Photo)

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday to discuss the coordinated international efforts required to tackle the spread of deadly coronavirus.

The deadly virus that first originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December last year has claimed over 4,600 lives and infected more than 124,330 people across 118 countries and territories.

“The Prime Minister spoke to Indian Prime Minister Modi today. They discussed the coronavirus outbreak and emphasised the importance of coordinated international efforts to tackle the spread of the virus,” a Downing Street spokesperson said.

A statement issued by the Indian Prime Minister’s Office in New Delhi said the two leaders expressed their desire to further strengthen the India-UK Strategic Partnership in the new decade.

“They agreed that it would be useful to formulate a comprehensive roadmap towards this objective,” the PMO statement said.

Prime Minister Modi expressed concern over UK Health Minister Nadine Dorries testing positive for coronavirus, and wished her a speedy recovery.

The two leaders expressed satisfaction at the cooperation between India and UK in the field of climate change, especially with reference to the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI).

While India has cancelled most travel visas until April 15 to try and curb the spread of the coronavirus, declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation, the UK has stepped up its preparations to move from the containment phase of the fightback to delaying its spread.

The delay phase, aimed at delaying the peak of the virus to warmer months of the year, could involve “social distancing” measures such as school and public facility closures.

Downing Street said that besides measures to address the pandemic, the two leaders also spoke about strengthening India-UK cooperation across all areas, including trade.

“More generally, the Prime Minister and Prime Minister Modi committed to strengthening bilateral cooperation between the UK and India in a range of areas including trade, cultural relations, defence and technology, the spokesperson said.

The challenge posed by climate change was among the topics covered during the phone call, as Johnson welcomed India’s efforts towards increasing its energy generation through renewable sources.

“The Prime Minister raised climate change, welcoming the steps taken by India to increase generation of renewable energy and urging the need for ambitious action to deliver on the Paris Agreement,” Downing Street said.

PM Modi thanked Prime Minister Johnson for the invitation to COP-26 in Glasgow later this year. He also reiterated his invitation to Johnson to visit India on mutually convenient dates.