India Takes Lead to Tame Corona at SAARC Region

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi interacts with the leaders of SAARC nations on combating COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic, via video conferencing in New Delhi on March 15, 2020. (Photo: IANS/PIB) by .
New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi interacts with the leaders of SAARC nations on combating COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic, via video conferencing in New Delhi on March 15, 2020. (Photo: IANS/PIB)
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India and Prime Minister Narendra Modi win laurels for the country’s initiative to face the challenges sparked by COVID-19 outbreak ….reports Asian Lite News. India created an emergency fund of $10 million for member nations to avail for fighting against Corona

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi interacts with the leaders of SAARC nations on combating COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic, via video conferencing in New Delhi on March 15, 2020. (Photo: IANS/PIB) by .
New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi interacts with the leaders of SAARC nations on combating COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic, via video conferencing in New Delhi on March 15, 2020. (Photo: IANS/PIB)

In the wake of spread of coronavirus , Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday suggested to the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) member nations to be vigilant despite the number of affected people in the region at not more than 150.

The Indian Prime Minister gave the suggestion to the SAARC member nations through a video-conference which aims to promote the World Health Organisation’s advice to avoid public gathering declaring the disease a pandemic. “As we all know, COVID-19 has recently been classified by WHO as a pandemic. So far, our region has listed fewer than 150 cases. But we need to remain vigilant,” he said.

Modi proposed setting up an emergency fund to fight the Coronavirus outbreak offered $10 million to get it going.

“Any of us can use the fund to meet the cost of immediate actions,” the Indian prime minister told the regional leaders, adding that India would also offer rapid response teams and other expertise to deal with the crisis.

Male: Maldives President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih interacts with the leaders of SAARC nations on combating COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic, via video conferencing in Male on March 15, 2020. (Photo: IANS/PIB) by .
Maldives President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih interacts with the leaders of SAARC nations on combating COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic, via video conferencing in Male on March 15, 2020. (Photo: IANS/PIB)

Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Bhutanese Premier Lotay Tshering, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Nepalese Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani participated in the conference. On behalf of Pakistan, Prime Minister’s Special Advisor for Health Dr Zafar Mirza attended the video conference.

India’s initiative got support from all the members in the regional forum including Pakistan. But questions were raised when Pakistan assigned its tainted Advisor to the Prime Minister Dr Zafar Mirza, who is facing a probe over the smuggling of 20 million masks outside the country.  The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) is investigating the complaint filed by Young Pharmacists’ Association.

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina  called for a strong collaboration among the Saarc nations in devising a  collective strategy and mobilising resources in combating coronavirus.

“We  need to devise a strong strategy for the region to combat this public  health threat and to protect our citizens,” she said from the Gono  Bhaban.

She suggested that the Saarc secretariat should  coordinate the regional collaboration on fighting coronavirus for the  safety and security of the people in the region.

Dhaka: Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina interacts with the leaders of SAARC nations on combating COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic, via video conferencing in Dhaka on March 15, 2020. (Photo: IANS/PIB) by .
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina interacts with the leaders of SAARC nations on combating COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic, via video conferencing in Dhaka on March 15, 2020. (Photo: IANS/PIB)

Hasina  said that Bangladesh is ready to share its capacity and expertise as well as  the best practices with the other Saarc countries, if required.She  proposed establishing an institution in Bangladesh to prevent and fight  public health threats in the South Asian Region in future.

Hasina  thanked the Indian premier for initiating the videoconference and  suggested that the regional dialogue should continue involving health  ministers, health secretaries, and relevant health experts to discuss  specific areas of cooperation.

“Southeast Asia regional director of World Health Organization may be invited to these videoconferences,” she said.

Hasina also thanked the Indian PM for bringing 23 Bangladeshi students from  China’s Wuhan along with Indian students and hosting them during the  quarantine period.

Initiating the video conferencing, Modi shared India’s experience of combating the spread of this virus so far and said “prepare, but don’t panic” has been our guiding mantra. The Prime Minister said that we started screening entry into India from mid-January itself, while also gradually increasing restrictions on travel.

“The step-by-step approach has helped avoid panic.” Modi said. He said that India has made special efforts to reach out to vulnerable groups and has worked to quickly ramp up capacity in its system including through training of medical staff.

“We also responded to the call of our people abroad. We evacuated nearly 1,400 Indians from different countries. We also similarly helped some of the citizens of our neighbouring countries.”

“We must all work together and must succeed together. We are still in an unknown situation,” Modi said.

The conference was organised following Prime Minister Modi’s proposal on Friday seeking formulation of a joint strategy by SAARC member nations to control and monitor the Covid-19 outbreak which originated in China’s Wuhan city in December last year and has killed over 5,000 people and infected more than 1.50 lakh people globally.

China remains the worst-hit with 3,189 deaths and 80,824 confirmed cases of infection. No death has been reported in Pakistan while two persons have died in India due to the disease. So far, 28 cases of coronavirus have been reported in Pakistan and there are 107 confirmed cases in India.

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