‘Prepare, don’t panic’ India’s guiding mantra to tackle COVID-19: PM Modi to SAARC leaders

Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with leaders and representatives from SAARC nations participated in a video conference to chalk out a joint strategy to fight the coronavirus outbreak.

“Prepare, but don’t panic” has been India’s guiding mantra in combating the spread of this virus, he said.

In his opening address, Prime Minister Modi said, “As we all know, COVID-19 has recently been classified by W.H.O. as a pandemic. ​So far, our region has listed fewer than 150 cases. ​But we need to remain vigilant as our SAARC region is home to nearly one-fifth of all humanity. “

“All of us have significant challenges in terms of access to healthcare facilities.  Our people-to-people ties are ancient, and our societies are deeply inter-connected. Therefore, we must all prepare together, we must all act together, and we must all succeed together,” Modi said.

“We were careful to not underestimate the problem, but also to avoid knee-jerk reactions. We have tried to take proactive steps, including a graded response mechanism. We started screening entry into India from mid-January itself, while also gradually increasing restrictions on travel. The step-by-step approach has helped avoid panic,” he added.

He further said, India also responded to the call of its people abroad and evacuated nearly 1,400 Indians from different countries.

Besides PM Modi, Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, Nepalese Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli, Bhutanese premier Lotay Tshering, Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Special Assistant to Pakistani Prime Minister on Health Zafar Mirza participated in the video conference.