Narendra Modi proposed an emergency coronavirus fund for Saarc nations, offering $10 million to the fund from India
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, in a videoconference with the leaders of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc), proposed that an institution should be established to prevent and fight any public health threat in the South Asian region in future.
She also stressed the need for forging collaboration among the Saarc countries through collective expertise and resources to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
"We believe it's extremely important to establish an institution to prevent and fight against any public health threat in the South Asian region in future…. Bangladesh will be happy to host such institution if you all kindly agree," she said told the Saarc leaders.
She also has urged the Saarc leaders to work together for any problem that arises in the future and share the experience in fighting coronavirus.
Sheikh Hasina said the government has kept four newly-built hospitals, including the Kuwait Moitree Hospital, in Dhaka dedicated to exclusively deal with Covid-19 patients.
"In addition, there is one more hospital in Rajshahi, to exclusively handle COVlD-19 patients. We have also earmarked separate beds in every hospital in all districts to treat COVlD-19 patients," she said.
The premier said a few vacant buildings have been identified where makeshift hospitals can be established in case there is any such need.
"We also have trained health workers at upazila levels and schoolchildren are also being trained to follow necessary personal hygiene," she said.
Sheikh Hasina also said the government has stockpiles of testing kits, infrared thermometers, isolation gowns and masks.
The premier said her party Awami League at all levels are active in awareness-raising, while local body representatives are vigilant to enforce home quarantine, if necessary.
Sheikh Hasina proposed another similar video conference with health ministers and health experts of the Saarc countries.
At the beginning of the videoconference, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said India's message to the rest of the Saarc nation for battling the deadly Covid 19 was "prepare but do not panic" and added that the region which housed one-fifth of the world population had to be ready to deal with this contingency.
"So far our Saarc region has registered fewer than 150 cases, but we need to remain vigilant as our Saarc region is home to nearly one-fifth of total world population," he added.
Modi said there were "significant challenges to health care facilities" in the region.
Therefore, he added, "We must all prepare together, we must all act together and we must all succeed together."
Indian PM said the country had taken swift steps to upgrade its medical infrastructure to deal with coronavirus while ensuring that there is no panic.
"Prepare but do not panic, has been our guiding mantra. We have been careful to not underestimate the problem, but also to avoid knee jerk reaction. We have tried to take proactive steps including upgraded response mechanisms. We started screening in mid-January itself. The step by step approach has helped in spreading panic," Modi further said.
"We have worked to quickly ramp up our systems including training of our medical staff," he said.
A calm, calculated and deliberated response is the need of the moment, Pakistani Prime Minister's Special Assistant Zafar Mirza said during his speech claiming that Pakistan has kept the spread of coronavirus at a minimum level.
Agreeing with the Maldives and Bangladesh to host a similar video conference with health officials, Zafar Mirza shared four pillars of Pakistan's Covid-19 prevention strategy with the Saarc leaders, which are - Governance and Financing, Prevention, Mitigation and Communication.
Sri Lankan Prime Minister during his speech said that the biggest challenge his country facing in controlling the virus is - the large number of Sri Lankan working in South Korea.
"We have closed all educational institutions to curb the spread of coronavirus," he added.
Top leaders of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, the Maldives, and Sri Lanka have joined to the video conference on invitation of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Modi proposes to create an emergency fund for Saarc nations to fight Covid-19
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi proposed to create an emergency coronavirus fund for South Asian countries during his video conference with Saarc leaders on Sunday. PM Modi said the contribution to this fund would be voluntary for all the Saarc nations while pitching India's initial offer of USD10 million to the fund.
"Looking ahead, we could create a common research platform, to coordinate research on controlling epidemic diseases within our South Asian region. The Indian Council of Medical Research can offer help coordinating such an exercise," he said.
Pakistan on coronavirus: No region on earth can afford to be unresponsive
Zafar Mirza, State Minister of Health of Pakistan said during video conferencing with Saarc leaders: "With over 155,000 infections, 5833 deaths and 138 countries involved, no nation and no region on earth can afford to be unresponsive."
"Pakistan shares common concern over the potential of Covid-19 affecting South Asia. All our countries have confirmed cases. There is no room for any complacency. While hoping for the best we have to be prepared for the worst."
"We have decided to close all our educational institutions for 3 weeks, close the entire western border for 2 weeks, restrict international flights to 3 airports only and to ban all large public gatherings.
Nepal PM K P Oli: Collective efforts will help strategy to fight coronavirus
Prime Minister of Nepal K P Sharma Oli at Saarc video conference on coronavirus: "Our collective efforts will help us devise a sound and robust strategy for Saarc region to fight coronavirus."
Formulate policies to assist economies: Sri Lanka President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to Saarc leaders
Sri Lanka President Gotabaya Rajapaksa: "Our economy has taken a serious blow, particularly the tourism sector which was just recovering after last years' terrorist attack. I strongly recommend Saarc leaders to formulate a mechanism to assist our economies to tide over a difficult period."
The Maldives is fortunate to have received general assistance from India: President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih
Maldives President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih at video conference of all Saarc nations: "I too will begin by thanking PM Modi for this timely call for a regional initiative to combat the increasing threat of coronavirus. No country on its own can succeed in combating the virus."
"The Maldives is fortunate to have received general assistance from India and I convey my Government's appreciation to Mr Modi and people of India," he added.
Ashraf Ghani proposes a common framework for tele-medicine to fight coronavirus
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani proposes a common framework for tele-medicine to combat coronavirus."The closing of borders will result in a significant problem of availability of food, medicines and basic goods"