President calls for SAARC ministerial group to combat COVID – 19

President calls for SAARC ministerial group to combat COVID – 19

President calls for SAARC ministerial group to combat COVID – 19

Written by Staff Writer

15 Mar, 2020 | 11:17 pm

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa today (Mar 15) called for the establishment of a SAARC ministerial group to combat the novel coronavirus.

During a video conference with leaders of SAARC countries, the Sri Lankan President stated that the country’s biggest challenge is to mitigate the spread of the virus.

“…it is very important for us to work together, not only in combatting the COVID-19 virus, but also being prepared for similar situations,” Rajapaksa said.

He pointed out that Sri Lanka has faced a setback in exports and called on SAARC leaders to assist the country’s economy in the current situation.

President Rajapaksa speaking on the steps taken in the country to curb the spread of the virus said that large gatherings have been completely discouraged.

However, he said that the general election which is scheduled to be held on the 25th of April will go ahead as planned.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who initiated the video conference suggested to set-up an emergency fund with voluntary contributions of SAARC member states to counter COVID-19.

He noted that India would be able to pool in an initial sum of 10 million US dollars.

Modi also spoke about a Rapid Response Team which can be called in to assist SAARC member countries grappling with the outbreak of the virus.

“We are assembling a Rapid Response Team of doctors and specialists in India, along with testing kits and other equipment. They will be on stand-by, to be placed at your disposal, if required,” he said.

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