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News ID: 45566
Asia » Asia
Publish Date: 13:33 - 27 March 2020
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has decided to go ahead with an arms deal worth hundreds of millions of dollars with Israel, while healthcare workers in the country are grappling with a serious lack of masks and protective equipment in their fight against the coronavirus outbreak.

India buys Israeli arms as doctors demand facemasksThe Indian government said in a statement earlier this week that Israel will supply the country with 16,479 Negev light machine guns.

The arms deal signed on Thursday was originally authorized by the Defense Acquisition Council (DAC) in February last year.

"The provisioning of this operationally urgent and very critically needed weapon will boost the confidence of the frontline troops and provide much-needed combat power to the Armed Forces," India's defense ministry said.

The news of the arms purchase has brought Modi’s government under fire for its poor handling of the coronavirus crisis.

India, the world’s second most populous country and fifth biggest economy, has so far reported 660 cases of COVID-19, and 13 deaths, according to health officials.

Doctors in need of protective gear

Doctors and healthcare workers came out on social media on Thursday, demanding full personal protection equipment as they are in the frontline of the battle against COVID-19.

This came after a doctor in Delhi, along with his wife and daughter, tested positive for the coronavirus.

It was revealed later that some 800 people, who had visited the doctor, had to be quarantined.

President of the Progressive Medicos and Scientists Forum, Harjit Singh Bhatti, said Thursday that healthcare professionals face the highest risk of getting infected.

“Thus, I urge the prime minister to provide us with adequate protective gear, like masks, gowns, head covers, etc,” he told Turkish news agency Anadolu.

“A doctor can become a super spreader, patients can get affected. If we remain safe, we will help keep others safe,” he added.

PM Modi under fire  

Indian activists and politicians also denounced the government’s decision over the arms deal with Israel.

“Why is the government of India choosing to spend massive amounts on military purchases instead of prioritizing a corona relief package, medical infrastructure, free healthcare and testing for all?” asked activist Kavita Krishnan.

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