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Published On: Sun, Mar 15th, 2020

India suggested creation of emergency fund with “voluntary contributions” to counter the coronavirus in SAARC nations

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94leqNSr-640x360NEW DELHI : Prime Minister Narendra Modi today proposed the creation of a COVID 19 emergency fund based on “voluntary contributions” from SAARC nations. to counter the novel coronavirus in SAARC nations — India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, the Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka. He said India can start with an initial offer of 10 million dollars for this fund.
Leading India at the video conference of all SAARC member countries to chalk out a common strong strategy to fight COVID-19 in the region, Mr Modi said India had 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.
Outlining the plan, the He  said, “We are assembling a Rapid Response Team of doctors and specialists in India, along with testing kits and other equipment. They will be on stand-by, to be placed at your disposal, if required”.
Modi said SAARC nations could create a common Research Platform to coordinate research on controlling epidemic diseases within South Asian region. The Indian Council of Medical Research can offer help coordinating such an exercise.
“‘Prepare, but don’t panic’ has been our guiding mantra. We have to avoid knee-jerk reactions,” the Prime Minister said, adding that the SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) region has so far seen 150 cases. “But we need to remain vigilant,” he added.
The number of coronavirus cases in the country reached 107 today, with Maharashtra reporting the highest number of cases — 31. Most of the 23 new cases are from the state.
As part of the preventive measures against the virus, most schools and colleges in the country have shut down, offices are encouraging their employees to work from home, cinema halls are shut and festivals and convocations stand cancelled. Parliament has barred visitors.
The number of coronavirus cases in the country reached 107 today, with Maharashtra reporting the highest number of cases — 31. Most of the 23 new cases are from the state.
Sharing India’s experience of combating the spread of the virus so far, the PM said “prepare but do not panic” has been the guiding mantra. He said India was careful to not underestimate the problem but also to avoid knee jerk reactions.
Mr Modi said nearly 1400 Indians have been evacuated from different countries. He said a protocol has been built for such evacuations including carrying out testing by India’s mobile teams deployed abroad.
Modi said that we have to fight this battle together and we have to win it together. He said, our neighbourhood collaboration should be a model for the world. Mr Modi also assured that India will do its best for its neighbours.
Sharing his thoughts, Maldives President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih welcomed Mr Modi’s suggestion of setting up a COVID Emergency Fund. He said the situation requires shared response at an unprecedented scale to contain the virus.
While,Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapakse  said the biggest challenge is to stop the virus from spreading within Sri Lanka. He said in view of this, Sri Lankan has banned tourists entering the country. He emphasised the need for South Asia to share ideas and best practices in order to face up to the challenge of the rapid spread of the virus.
Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani welcomed various new initiatives suggested by Modi and suggested all countries to keep a close focus on the next months on the evolving situation. He said there is a need for a common cooperative framework to fight the pandemic of COVID 19.
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina thanked PM Modi for bringing back 23 students of her country from Wuhan. Nepal Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli noted the importance of pooling collective wisdom to devise a sound and effective strategy to combat the virus.
PM 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.
State Minister of Health, Pakistan Dr. Zafar Mirza observed that his country shares the common regional concerns on the virus. He said that while hoping for the best, they also have to prepare for the worst.






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