Pakistan joins SAARC members' video conference on COVID-19

Pakistan joined regional countries in a video conference of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) members on Sunday to discuss responses to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday proposed a conference of SAARC to explore coordination and strategy to combat the disease.

The Foreign Ministry of Pakistan said that Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Zafar Mirza represented Pakistan in the conference.

Mirza, while highlighting Pakistan's approaches and responses to the pandemic, underscored that Pakistan had been engaged in containment efforts from the outset of the outbreak, a statement from the foreign office said.

"Pakistan's proactive strategy and containment efforts have been recognised and commended by the World Health Organisation," it said.

Mirza underscored the need to empower and mandate the SAARC Secretariat to act as a platform for regional efforts to combat the disease.

Among other measures, he proposed instituting exit screening by member states for travelers in the region, and instituting mechanisms for learning from the effective efforts of China in containment and control, according to the statement.

Mirza reiterated Pakistan's earlier proposal of hosting SAARC Health Ministers' Conference at the earliest opportunity.

So far, nearly 200 COVID-19 cases have been reported from the SAARC nations, out of which 107 are in India and 52 are in Pakistan.

SAARC groups Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Pakistan, India, the Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka.

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