Taking initiative to battle the pandemic Coronavirus (COVID-19), PM Modi on Sunday, announced setting up a common 'COVID-19 emergency fund' and pledged $10 million as India's contribution to it, while addressing a SAARC conference to battle COVID-19. Clarifying that any one of the seven nations could withdraw funds to use battle the pandemic, he said that India is also assembling a Rapid action team of doctors at the disposal of the neighbours. Moreover, he said that India can share its Disease Surveillance software with the SAARC countries.
"I propose we create a COVID-19 emergency fund. This could be based on a voluntary contribution for all of us. India can start with an initial offer of USD 10 million and any one of us can use this fund for battling COVID19. We are assembling a Rapid action team of doctors in India along with testing kits to be on standby at your disposal if required," he said.
He added, "We can also quickly arrange online training capsules for our emergency response teams. This will be based on the model we've used in our own country. We had set up an Integrated Disease Surveillance Portal to better trace possible virus carriers and the people they contacted. We could share this Disease Surveillance software with SAARC partners and training on using this."
Looking into the future, PM Modi proposed setting up a common research platform to control epidemic diseases in South-East Asia. Highlighting the economic consequences of COVID-19, he said the countries' must brainstorm to insulate the region from its effects. He asked other leaders to share their views on the issue.
"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. We can ask our experts to brainstorm on the economic consequences of COVID-19 and how we can insulate our internal trade and local value chain from its impact."
The Prime Minister addressed a SAARC video conference to share each other efforts and issues as the seven countries battle the pandemic. The video conference was led by PM Modi and was attended by Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani, Maldives President Ibrahim Solih, Sri Lanka president Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Bhutan Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering, Nepal Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan's assistant - Dr Zafar Mirza. PM Modi highlighted the SAARC's ancient ties and said that 'we must work and succeed together'. As of date, the total number of positive cases in India has risen upto 107, with two deaths in the country.