Prime Minister Narendra Modi discussed with leaders of SAARC countries through video conferencing on Sunday. The discussion was attended by Bhutan’s Prime Minister Lotay Tshering, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani, Maldives President Ibrahim Soli, , Nepal’s Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
- Corona Virus emerged as a global pandemic.
- Important meeting via video conferencing between SAARC countries.
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi leads the meeting.
The world is now vulnerable to the corona virus that has become an epidemic in China, Iran and Italy. Corona virus has the highest effect in Asia. The World Health Organization has also declared the Corona virus as pandemic. PM Modi discussed with leaders of SAARC countries through video conferencing on Sunday.
PM Modi, while discussing about corona virus at 5 pm on Sunday via video conferencing with the Head of States of SAARC countries, said that there is a need to be vigilant about the corona virus. PM Modi said that, “we need not to panic Corona virus but fight together against it”. He said that SAARC countries have to be cautious.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi while addressing the leaders of SAARC countries said, “I want to thank all those leaders who agreed to talk with us on a short note. Nepal’s Prime Minister Oli also joined us immediately, even though he has recently undergone surgery. We all know that COVID-19 has been declared an pandemic by the World Health Organization. There are less than 150 cases in our region but we have to be cautious”.
Be ready but don’t Panic
PM Modi said that we are ready to tackle this challenge. India’s strategy is to be ready, but do not panic. This is the basic mantra of our preparations. We started screening the entry from mid-January. We also imposed restrictions on some trips. Due to serial preparations, the panic of corona virus could not spread in India.
PM Modi said that we tried first to reach the weaker sections. We have also contacted Indians living abroad. The discussion included Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani, Maldives President Ibrahim Soli, Prime Minister of Bhutan, Prime Minister of Nepal and Health Minister of Pakistan.
PM Modi said, we have contacted our people living abroad. We airlifted 1400 Indian people from different countries. We also helped the citizens of our neighboring countries.
What SAARC leaders said
Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani said, ‘We should prepare a common framework for tele-medicine to deal with the corona virus. The closure of borders will cause problems of availability of food, medicines and basic goods’.
Bhutan Prime Minister Lotte Tshering said, ‘I think it is very timely and would like to thank PM Modi for his excellent leadership to bring all of us together. Togetherness is required at all times but when the world is fighting one common disease, it is very important to leave behind our differences. The King of Bhutan is running an awareness campaign among the people against the corona virus. The whole world is fighting unitedly with the corona virus. In such a situation, it is important to come close to the SAARC countries. Our ministry is also active on this matter. We are on high alert mode. We have our eyes on all the suspicious people. People are being quarantined.
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said, ‘I thank PM Modi for taking this initiative. I also thank India for rescuing 23 Bangladeshi students living in Wuhan. We have to take strong steps to deal with the corona virus. We are constantly watching every international airport. A total of 19 cases were reported which are now well. We have 2 cases of Europe. We have formed a committee at the national level and running a campaign. Members of my party are active everywhere and are spreading awareness to tackle the corona virus’.
Appealing to the SAARC countries, Sheikh Hasina said, ‘All countries must come forward to deal with the corona virus. We have to work according to our capacity. Our Health Minister is ready to negotiate at the diplomatic level’.
Maldives President Ibrahim Mohammad Solih said that Maldives is fortunate to get help from India. On behalf of the government, I commend PM Modi and the people of India. We have to be together in times of crisis. No country is able to deal with the corona virus alone. The first case of Corona virus has surfaced in Maldives on 7 March. A total of 13 cases have been reported so far. There has been no death. The Maldives have made full preparations to deal with Corona virus.
Nepal’s Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli said, “Greetings to SAARC leaders.” I thank PM Modi. Our strategic cooperation will prepare us to deal with these challenges. All SAARC countries will have to come forward. We are ready to deal with the challenges of Corona virus. We have taken several important steps. The International Airport is being monitored. Everyone is being screened. We need to come together to deal with the corona virus.
Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said, ‘Corona virus is also spreading in Sri Lanka. We are working on the directions of the World Health Organization. We have taken important steps to deal with the corona virus. It is important that social mobilization has to be stopped. The infection must stop spreading. School-colleges have been closed’.
Pakistan Health Minister Zafar Mirza said, ‘COVID-19 has become the most dangerous epidemic. There have been 155,000 cases of corona virus. 5,833 people have died. It has spread to 138 countries. We have to be ready to deal with Corona Virus. Only protective measures can prevent this. Pakistan PM Imran Khan is keeping an eye on health services. Airports and ports are being monitored. Screening is being done. Mass mobilization has been banned.
Pakistan also raised the issue of Kashmir in this meeting. Pakistan said that all restrictions should be removed from Jammu and Kashmir which is necessary to deal with the corona virus.
India proposes emergency funds for SAARC countries
PM Modi said, ‘We are facing serious challenges. We do not know what the nature of this epidemic will be. We can come together and deal with it. We have to be ready for the strategy. India is ready to give $10 million US dollars to deal with the corona virus.
PM Modi said that to overcome the corona virus, we need to be together. We are setting up a rapid response team of doctors. These doctors will have all the necessary equipment along with the emergency kit. They will always be ready to support SAARC countries. We have to set up Integrated Disease Surveillance. This will identify the people infected with corona virus. We will be able to give Integrated Disease Surveillance Software to our SAARC partner countries. Necessary training will also be given for this.