Sheikh Khalifa extends sympathies following death of former Indian president Pranab Mukherjee

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - President Sheikh Khalifa has expressed his sympathies following the death of former Indian president, Pranab Mukherjee.

Sheikh Khalifa sent his condolences to Indian President Ram Nath Kovind after his predecessor died at the age of 84.

, Vice President and Ruler of , and Sheikh , Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, also delivered messages of support to President Kovind and Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi.

Mukherjee, a senior leader of India's Congress party, had emergency surgery for a blood clot in his brain on August 10 and tested positive for Covid-19 following surgery at New Delhi’s Army Hospital Research and Referral.

He remained in a coma after the procedure and the hospital said his health declined on Monday after a lung infection resulted in septic shock.

His son, former lawmaker Abhijeet Mukherjee, tweeted on Monday evening that he had died.

Mukherjee enjoyed a political career spanning five decades and served as India's 13th president from 2012 until 2017.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who leads the rival Bharatiya Janata Party, paid warm tribute to Mukherjee on Twitter, saying he “left an indelible mark on the development trajectory” of India.

“His wise counsel on key policy matters will never be forgotten by me,” Modi said.

The presidential office in India is largely ceremonial, with executive power lying in the hands of the prime minister.

A medical worker waits for the next person to get tested at a school turned into a centre to conduct tests for coronavirus in New Delhi, India. Reuters

A medical worker collects a sample from a man at a school turned into a centre in New Delhi. Reuters

A medical worker waits for people to be tested with rapid antigen test (RAT) for the Covid-19 coronavirus in New Delhi. AFP

A doctor checks the temperature of a man during a free medical camp in Dharavi, one of Asia's largest slums, in Mumbai. AP

A government municipal worker sprays disinfectant in area during a funeral in Srinagar. EPA

Workers prepare a bed at a recently constructed quarantine facility for patients diagnosed with the Covid-19 in Mumbai. Reuters

A Hindu devotee performs rituals in Mumbai. AP

Faithful attend a drive-in mass in an open area of Bethel AG Church as part of maintaining social distancing to prevent the spread of coronavirus in Bengaluru. AP

Commuters travel in a ferry during rain in Kochi, Kerala state. AP

A man prepares to wear his mask as fish vendors chat on a rainy day in Kochi, Kerala state. AP

A boy exercises at a park after a few restrictions were relaxed during a lockdown in Mumbai. Reuters

Commuters stand inside circles to maintain social distancing as they wait to board a train at a railway station after some restrictions were lifted in Mumbai. Reuters

The President of Kamakhya Temple Committee in front of the main entrance gate of Kamakhya temple. AFP

Mukherjee also held the positions of minister of finance, defense and foreign affairs for three separate prime ministers during a distinguished career.

He was a college teacher in West Bengal state before first running for public office in 1969.

Mukherjee was awarded India’s highest civilian honor, the Bharat Ratna, in 2019.

He is survived by two sons and a daughter. His wife died in 2015.

His death comes as India grapples with a surge in Covid-19 cases which has had a significant impact on the country's economy.

The vast nation of more than 1.3 billion people has recorded the third highest number of coronvirus infections since the outbreak began.

As of Tuesday, India has reported close to 3.7 million cases, while more than 65,000 have died.

On Sunday, India set the record for the highest single-day increase in cases with 78,761.

The outbreak has badly hit megacities such as financial hub Mumbai and the capital New Delhi, but is now also surging in smaller cities and rural areas.

India's economy shrank by nearly a quarter between April and June, much more than forecast as analysts called for further stimulus.

Lockdown measures are slowly being eased to help reinvigorate the economy.

The Home Affairs Ministry said gatherings of up to 100 people would be allowed at cultural, entertainment, sports and political events from next month, with precautions such as wearing face masks and social distancing in place.

Metro train services would also resume "in a graded manner" in major cities.

Schools remain closed but pupils can meet teachers on a voluntary basis on school premises if needed, according to the guidelines.

Updated: September 1, 2020 12:44 PM

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