PM, Scott Morrison agree on importance of equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday thanked his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison for the country’s support to India’s fight against coronavirus disease (Covid-19). “Spoke with my friend @ScottMorrisonMP to thank him for Australia’s solidarity and support for India’s fight against the pandemic. We agreed on the importance of ensuring affordable and equitable access to vaccines and medicines, and discussed possible initiatives in this regard,” PM Modi tweeted.

PM Modi sought Australia’s support for the initiative taken at the World Trade Organization by India and South Africa to seek a temporary waiver under Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) in this context, a statement read.

Both PM Modi and Morrison took note of the progress made in the India-Australia Comprehensive Strategic Partnership since the Virtual Summit held on June 4 last year and discussed ways to further strengthen cooperation and foster people-to-people ties.

“The leaders also discussed regional issues and reiterated the importance of working together for a rules-based international order and a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region,” the statement read.

PM Modi’s statement comes amid Australia’s decision to not extend the ban on citizens returning from Covid-hit India. Morrison had earlier this week banned all travel from India, fearing a large number of Covid-19 positive arrivals would overwhelm Australia’s already exhausted quarantine facilities.

The ban stranded an estimated 9,000 Australian citizens and threatened them with large fines and jail time if they tried to dodge the order and return on non-direct flights.

Morrison said the measures would remain in place until May 15 as planned, but then repatriation flights could resume. “The determination was designed to be a temporary measure and the medical advice… is that it will be safe to allow it to expire as planned on May 15,” he added.

India is currently witnessing a deadly Covid-19 second wave. India on Friday registered 4,14,188 new Covid-19 cases within the past 24 hours, marking the largest daily increase since the start of the outbreak, the Union health ministry said.

Source- Hindustan Times.

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