India has extended support to China in combating the dreaded coronavirus outbreak, and called for objective and rational assessment of the epidemic that has killed 259 people and affected nearly 12,000 others.
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Friday spoke to his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi over phone and thanked him for China's cooperation in evacuating the stranded Indians from the coronavirus-hit Wuhan city and Hubei province.
On Friday, India airlifted 324 Indians, mostly students, from Wuhan and operated a second flight on Saturday to evacuate the rest from the province.
Chinese health authorities announced that the death toll has risen to 259 with total confirmed cases increasing to 11,791, the biggest increase since China began reporting the spread of the virulent virus on January 21.
In his telephonic conversation with Wang, Jaishankar advocated an objective and rational assessment of the epidemic and said India is confident that China will overcome the difficulties, according to a Chinese Foreign Ministry statement. Jaishankar said that India supports the Chinese government and people in their efforts to combat the outbreak of the new coronavirus and appreciates China's open, transparent and responsible attitude in responding to the epidemic, it said.
India is confident that China will eventually overcome the epidemic, the External Affairs Minister said.
Wang, who is also the State Councillor, thanked India for its support and said the Chinese government and people are doing all they can to combat the coronavirus.
"We have taken the most comprehensive and rigorous prevention and control measures, many of which go well beyond the requirements of the International Health Regulations.
"China's efforts are not only protecting the health of its own people, but also the health of people around the world. Foreign governments and the World Health Organization (WHO) have given full recognition to this," Wang said.
The WHO on January 31 declared the virus as Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). Wang said that the WHO, however, did not approve of the travel or trade restrictions on China when it judged the coronavirus outbreak.
"We believe that all countries in the world, including India, will respect this important recommendation of the WHO and China is willing to further strengthen public health cooperation with the international community," he said.
Wang, in his separate telephonic conversation with Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Friday, once again highlighted the deep friendship between the two countries.
While India, the US, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and many countries evacuated their nationals from Wuhan, the Pakistani government -- despite strong criticism from the opposition, has declined pleas by several hundred Pakistani students in Wuhan to evacuate them.
The virus, that emerged in early December and traced to a Wuhan market selling wild animals, has now spread to more than two dozen countries including India, the US, the UK, Russia and Sweden.