SAARC leaders discuss Covid-19 emergency plan |16 March 2020
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi, leaders and representatives of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation nations took part in a video conference yesterday afternoon at the Indian high commission to discuss strategies to fight the COVID-19 virus that has been categorised as a global pandemic.
The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) groups together Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and India. The video conference was aimed at formulating a joint strategy to control and monitor the novel coronavirus outbreak.
“We will set up disease surveillance portal to better trace possible virus carriers and can share disease surveillance software with SAARC. We are assembling rapid response team of doctors, specialists in India, along with testing kits, they will be ready for deployment,” said PM Modi when speaking about India's preparedness for the outbreak.
“India also responded to the call of its people abroad, we evacuated nearly 1,400 Indians from different countries,” said PM Modi.
The prime minister also proposed creating a COVID-19 emergency fund that all SAARC members will fund. India was the first one to fund with ten million dollars.
“No nation can afford to be unresponsive to the situation in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak,”
said Pakistan PM's special assistant on health Zafar Mirza.
Maldivian President Ibrahim Solih backs coordinated approach to deal with COVID-19, saying no country can deal with the situation alone.
Mr Solih thanked PM Modi for the regional initiative to combat the COVID-19 challenge and welcomed PM Modi's suggestion of setting up a COVID-19 emergency fund.
SAARC leaders should formulate mechanism for our economies to ride over problems posed by coronavirus, said Sri Lanka President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.