At the Coronavirus videoconferencing in which SAARC members participated, every member outlined the steps they had taken to manage the virus.
Bengaluru: The much-awaited Coronavirus videoconferencing in which members of SAARC participated began, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi playing the key role.
In his opening remarks, PM said, “I would like to thank you all for joining this special session. I especially thank our friend, Nepal PM KP Sharma Oli who has joined us immediately after his recent surgery. I wish him speedy recovery.”
Modi also urged the SAARC nations to remain vigilant.
He said, “SAARC nations need to remain vigilant even though we only roughly 150 cases so far. We have to prepare but not panic. Have made special efforts to reach out to vulnerable section. India helped some citizens of neighbouring countries by evacuating them from coronavirus-hit nations.”
Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani said, “Since India is an important member of Shanghai Cooperation, of which China is also a member, I propose we increase our coordination with them and learn from their experience.”
It was then the turn of Maldives President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih to speak. He said, “Since January, Maldives has taken steps to prevent coronavirus outbreak. Our priority is to work on precautionary measures to stem the outbreak of the virus.”
He also said, “I am in full agreement with PM Modi on the need to create a coordinated strategy to fight coronavirus.”
Sri Lanka President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said, “We have taken many steps but we can't stop those Sri Lankans who are returning from Italy and China. Therefore, we are quarantining them for 14 days.”
He also added that no death related to Coronavirus was reported from Sri Lanka thus far.
Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina too spoke on the occasion. She said, “As of now, we only have 5 imported cases in Bangladesh, no local cases so far. Our health minister, health secretaries can also have a similar conference to discuss the technicalities of our response to coronavirus. I hope this conference will show a new path to all of us in tackling coronavirus.”
Nepal PM KP Sharma Oli had this to say on the occasion: “We have taken several measures to enhance our preparation for fighting coronavirus. We are enhancing the capacities of hospitals. We are also providing protective equipment and incentive to health workers to motivate them.
Bhutan PM Lotay Tshering said, “This virus will hurt the economies of smaller countries disproportionately, so we need to work on its economic impact as well. We managed to trace the path taken by the first coronavirus patient in Bhutan and also the people that came in contact with the patient.”
Zafar Mirza, Pak PM's Special assistant on Health said, “We have deployed required protocols to deal with coronavirus in Pakistan. Pakistan shares common concern over the potential of coronavirus affecting South Asia. While hoping for the best we have to be prepared for the worst.”
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Last Updated Mar 15, 2020, 6:13 PM IST