We must prepare, act and succeed together against COVID-19: PM Modi tells SAARC leaders

New Delhi [India], Mar 15 (ANI): Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said that the countries that are members of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) should "prepare, act and succeed together" against COVID-19.

"As developing nations, all of us have significant challenges in terms of access to heal care facilities. Our people-to-people ties are ancient and our society deeply interconnected. We must all prepare, act and succeed together," Modi said in a video conference with all SAARC member countries.

He stressed the importance of vigilance since the region is densely populated.

"COVID-19 has recently been classified by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as a pandemic. So far, our SAARC region has listed fewer than 150 cases but we need to remain vigilant. SAARC region is home to nearly 1/5 of all humanity. It is densely populated," said Modi.

Prime Minister Modi briefed the SAARC member countries about India's experience of combating the spread of coronavirus so far.

"Prepare, but don't panic has been our guiding mantra. 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. We have made special efforts to reach out to vulnerable groups," he said.

The Prime Minister said that "we have worked to quickly ramp up capacity in our system including through training our medical staff across the country. We have also increased diagnostic capabilities. Within two months, we moved from one major facility for pan-India testing."

Modi said that the country has developed protocols for each stage of managing the pandemic.

"We also responded to the call of our people abroad. We evacuated nearly 1,400 Indians from different countries. We also similarly helped some of the citizens of our neighbouring countries," he said.

Underlining the concern of other countries for their citizens in India, Modi said that the foreign ambassadors are being updated about the situation in the country on a regular basis.

"We cannot predict with certainty how the situation will unfold despite our best efforts. You must also be facing similar concern," he said. (ANI)