Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday called on countries of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation to set an example by chalking out a strong strategy to fight the coronavirus pandemic. Over 4,000 people have been killed worldwide, and over 1.2 lakh infected by the virus so far. In India, 75 people have been diagnosed with COVID-19, and one person has died.
SAARC comprises seven countries – India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Modi suggested leaders of SAARC nations that they could discuss strategies to combat the coronavirus via videoconferencing.
“Our planet is battling the COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus,” Modi tweeted. “At various levels, governments and people are trying their best to combat it. South Asia, which is home to a significant number of the global population should leave no stone unturned to ensure our people are healthy.”
“I would like to propose that the leadership of SAARC nations chalk out a strong strategy to fight Coronavirus,” Modi added. “We could discuss, via video conferencing, ways to keep our citizens healthy. Together, we can set an example to the world, and contribute to a healthier planet.”
Nepal Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli welcomed Modi’s suggestion. He said his government was willing to work closely with other SAARC member countries to fight the coronavirus.
Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa thanked Modi for the suggestion. He said Sri Lanka is ready to join discussions and learn from other SAARC countries. “Let’s unite in solidarity during these trying times and keep our citizens safe,” Rajapaksa added.
Maldives President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih also welcomed the proposal. “Covid 19 requires collective effort to defeat it,” he tweeted. “Maldives welcomes this proposal and would fully support such a regional effort.”
Bhutan Prime Minister Lotay Tshering hailed Modi’s “leadership”, ANI reported. “As members of this region, we must come together in such times,” he said, addressing the Indian prime minister. “Smaller economies are hit harder, so we must coordinate. With your leadership, I’ve no doubt we will see immediate & impactful outcome.”