Navy postpones its largest-ever Milan exercise due to Coronavirus spread

NEW DELHI: The Navy has postponed its largest-ever “Milan” multilateral exercise off the
Visakhapatnam coast from March 18 due to the continuing spread of the deadly
coronavirus, even as the government has also asked the armed forces to be ready to set up quarantine facilities on a large scale if required for suspected cases.

“Milan 2020, which was to be held from March 18 to 28, has been postponed taking into consideration the safety of all participants and travel restrictions imposed by the spread of COVID-19. Milan had generated a very enthusiastic response, with navies around the world having expressed their desire to participate. The
Indian Navy looks forward toward scheduling Milan at a later convenient date,” said naval spokesperson Commander
Vivek Madhwal on Tuesday.

Thirty-two navies – including US, Russia, France,
Australia and UK, apart from neighbouring countries — had already confirmed their participation in this year’s Milan. But China, from where the coronavirus has spread worldwide, and
Pakistan were not among the 41 countries invited for the multi-lateral exercise.

The Navy has held 10 editions of the Milan exercise, with the theme of “synergy across the seas” to enhance professional interactions between friendly foreign navies and learn best practices from each other, since 1995. The last Milan was held at Port Blair in 2018.

As for coronavirus outbreak, the Army in late-January had set up a quarantine facility near Manesar to handle the Indian students then being evacuated from China, while the IAF on February 26 had dispatched a C-17 Globemaster-III aircraft to transport around 15 tonnes of medical supplies to Wuhan and bring back over 100 people.

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