Pakistan said on Friday that it will participate in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s proposed video conference of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation member nations on ways to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
Pakistan Foreign Office Spokesperson Aisha Farooqui said that Special Assistant to Pakistani Prime Minister on Health Zafar Mirza will be part of the video conference. “We have communicated that SAPM [Special Assistant to Pakistani Prime Minister] on Health [Zafar Mirza] will be available to participate in the video conference of SAARC member countries on the issue,” she said in a tweet.
Modi had reached out to leaders of SAARC member nations on Friday and suggested a video conference to come up with a strategy to contain the rapidly-spreading disease.
“Our planet is battling the COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus,” Modi had 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 , Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Maldives President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih had welcomed Modi’s proposal.
All SAARC nations have reported cases of coronavirus. India has 83 cases, the highest among the eight-member grouping. It is also the only SAARC country to have reported deaths due to coronavirus. Pakistan has 28 cases, Maldives has nine and Afghanistan has seven. Sri Lanka and Bangladesh have six and three cases, respectively, while Bhutan and Nepal have reported one case each.
Pakistan’s high-powered National Security Committee on Friday took several decisions in preparation for the fight against coronavirus. The country has decided to close its western border with Afghanistan and Iran, the epicentre of the outbreak in West Asia. The Kartarpur corridor will remain open for Indian pilgrims, but has been closed for Pakistani visitors, according to PTI.
The World Health Organization has declared the outbreak of coronavirus a pandemic. The virus, which first surfaced in China in December, has now killed more than 5,000 people, with cases around the world topping 134,000, according to AFP.