Coronavirus | PM Modi in video conference with SAARC leaders to chalk out strategy

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The number of COVID-19 cases confirmed by the Union Health Ministry stood at 107 at noon on Sunday, with two deaths reported so far from Delhi and Karnataka. One more case has been reported from Maharashtra, putting the number of confirmed cases at 108.

PM Modi, SAARC leaders participate in video conference to chalk out strategy

“We evacuated nearly 1400 citizens including some from our neighbouring countries. We recognize other countries are also concerned about safety of citizens in India. So we briefed foreign diplomats,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said.

Afghanistan

“We are in an unknown territory. Our major vulnerability is the border with Iran,” Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said. He suggested a common framework for tele-medicine for helping the poor and the vulnerable in South Asia. He sought coordination between SAARC and SCO for learning from the Chinese experience.

Maldives

President of the Maldives Ibrahim Mohamed Solih said Maldives has 13 COVID-19 cases. There has been no death so far. Tourist arrivals declined by 22.8% in Maldives in March. A 35% drop in tourism is expected this year. Tourism contributes a quarter of Maldives’ GDP, he said. He added that $446 million shortfall due to COVID-19 is expected this year.

“Long term recovery plan should be included in the comprehensive regional strategy on COVID-19,” Mr. Solih said.

Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said there are a large number of Sri Lankans in Italy, adding that “all nationals arriving will spend 14 days quarantine in different locations in Sri Lanka”.  He said the first patient was a Chinese lady who recovered. “At present we have 11 cases in hospitals,” he said.

Mr. Rajapaksa said a national task force has been created, with power that meets daily to stop the spread of COVID-19. Twelve hospitals have been declared suitable for treating the disease in Sri Lanka.

“34 Sri Lankan students were evacuated from Wuhan by Air Lanka. They were quarantined for 14 days. None tested positive. 750 Sri Lankans are in various universities in China. They are quarantined.

“Sri Lankan general elections will be held on time but big meetings are discouraged.

“All major international conferences meetings have beencancelled. Gatherings for religious reasons have been stopped for two weeks,” Mr. Rajapaksa added. Any passenger coming from high risk countries will be quarantined in Sri Lanka . Because of these reasons, the country’s economy has taken a hit. Tourists from Italy, Germany and EU are the main visitors to Sri Lanka, he said.

Bangladesh

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina thanked Mr. Modi for hosting 23 Bangladeshi students evacuated from China. So far there have been three COVID-19 cases in Bangladesh, she said.

“All SAARC countries need to collaborate to defeat COVID-19. WHO regional leader can be invited in this mechanism.

“Bangladesh will be happy to host a SAARC based institution to fight COVID-19,” she said.

Nepal

Prime Minister of Nepal, K.P. Oli, said the movement of third country nationals through the land border has been suspended. All mountaineering permits have been suspended for spring 2020.

Bhutan

Prime Minister of Bhutan Lotay Tshering said that the first person with COVID-19 has left Bhutan. He was airlifted and is now with his family.

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