Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that SAARC countries must prepare together, act together and succeed together in dealing with the Coronavirus. In his opening remarks at the video conference of all SAARC member countries to chalk out a common strong strategy to fight the virus in the region, Mr Modi said sharing perspectives is most valuable as it cannot be predicted with certainty how the situation will unfold despite best efforts.
He said so far SAARC region has fewer than 150 cases but there is a need to remain vigilant.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi proposed the creation of a COVID 19 emergency fund based on voluntary contribution from SAARC nations.
Mr Modi said India is assembling a Rapid Response Team of doctors and specialists, along with testing kits and other equipment. They will be on stand-by to be placed at SAARC nation’s disposal, if required. Mr Modi said India has set up an Integrated Disease Surveillance Portal to better trace possible virus carriers and the people they contacted.
This Disease Surveillance software could be shared with SAARC partners. Prime Minister Modi said, our neighbourhood collaboration should be a model for the world. He also assured that India will do its best for its neighbours.
Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih welcomed Mr Modi’s suggestion of setting up a COVID Emergency Fund. He thanked India for providing general assistance to the island.
Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapakse thanked Prime Minister Modi for offering assistance like testing kits to regional countries.
Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani welcomed various new initiatives suggested by Prime Minister Modi and suggested all countries to keep a close focus in months ahead on the evolving situation.
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has called upon the leaders of the SAARC countries to set up an institution to deal with public health threats in future.
Nepal Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli noted the importance of pooling collective wisdom to devise a sound and effective strategy to combat the virus. The Prime Minister of Bhutan Dr. Lotay Tshering welcomed the setting up of COVID Relief Fund and acknowledged the contribution of health care professionals in combating the virus.
Pakistan State Minister of Health, Dr. Zafar Mirza observed that his country shares the common regional concerns on the virus.