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NEW DELHI : India on Monday assured the Maldives of continued support to the Indian Ocean atoll nation trying to cope with the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic.

In a telephone conversation with Maldivian president Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, Prime Minister Narendra Modi appreciated the “special challenges" that the pandemic poses for a tourism-dependent economy such as the Maldives, a statement from India’s foreign ministry said.

Modi “assured Solih of continued Indian support for minimizing the health and economic impact of covid-19", it said, adding that both leaders “agreed their officials would remain in touch on issues arising out of the present health crisis, as well as other aspects of bilateral cooperation".

Modi was “happy to hear that the Indian medical team deployed earlier to Maldives, and the essential medicines gifted by India, had contributed towards controlling the spread of the infection in the islands", it added.

The reference was to India’s dispatch of an army medical team last month after the atoll nation reported its first case at the beginning of March when two employees of a resort tested positive. On Friday, the Maldivian Health Protection Agency issued strict stay-at-home orders for Male, home to 40% of the country’s population of 450,000, fearing an outbreak in the congested city.

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