India permits 835 healthcare professionals to travel to Saudi Arabia for fight against Covid-19 | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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India permits 835 healthcare professionals to travel to Saudi Arabia for fight against Covid-19

Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By
May 14, 2020 06:33 PM IST

Saudi Arabia is the second West Asian country, after the United Arab Emirates (UAE), to which the Indian government has permitted doctors and healthcare professionals to travel to support efforts to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Indian government has facilitated the travel of 835 healthcare professionals to Saudi Arabia following a request from Riyadh, and the first batch of doctors and nurses departed from Kerala in a special flight on Wednesday, people familiar with developments said.

Indian healthcare professionals from Kerala arriving in Saudi Arabia. Photos from MEA
Indian healthcare professionals from Kerala arriving in Saudi Arabia. Photos from MEA

Saudi Arabia is the second West Asian country, after the United Arab Emirates (UAE), to which the Indian government has permitted doctors and healthcare professionals to travel to support efforts to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.

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During their recent telephone conversations with external affairs minister S Jaishankar, the foreign ministers of several West Asian countries had requested that their medical personnel currently in India should be allowed to go back. Jaishankar had assured them this matter will be given sympathetic consideration.

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Saudi Arabia’s state-run national carrier Saudia will operate special flights from Kochi on May 13, 16, 20 and 23 to repatriate the 835 healthcare personnel, the people cited above said on condition of anonymity.

“Indian healthcare professionals are returning to Saudi Arabia to resume their duties,” the Indian embassy in Riyadh tweeted on Thursday.

Ambassador Ausaf Sayeed recently addressed 50 industry representatives from India via video conference as part of the CII India and the World Series interactions and spoke about opportunities for trade and investment cooperation between India and Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia is home to 2.6 million Indians as of August 2019, and a large number of doctors and nurses are among the Indian professionals working in the country.

On May 10, a group of 88 Indian doctors and healthcare professionals travelled to the UAE to bolster efforts to fight Covid-19. The group included 60 nurses trained in critical care and some professionals who were recently recruited by a firm in the UAE. Both India and the UAE have also provided each other essential medical supplies.

Many West Asian countries have sought essential medicines such as hydroxychloroquine and paracetamol from India to support their efforts against the Covid-19 pandemic. India has already supplied or is in the process of providing these medicines to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Egypt and Palestine as humanitarian aid and on a commercial basis.

Indian medical professionals are also among 212 doctors who benefited from a 10-year “golden residency” visa granted on Wednesday by UAE Prime Minister Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum for their role on the frontline of the battle against the Coronavirus.

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